SAVE RAJARHAT NEWTOWN WLANDS AND URBAN FOREST. save Newtown ecology

SAVE RAJARHAT NEWTOWN WLANDS AND URBAN FOREST. save Newtown ecology

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Jayjit Ganguly started this petition to chairman.nkda.in

SAVE RAJARHAT NEWTOWN WLANDS AND URBAN FOREST.

 

Mother’s Wax Mueseum and the National Green Tribunal are both situated in the same building- the International Finance Centre, Action Area- II, Central Business District, Newtown Rajarhat, on the main Arterial Road and opposite Eco-Park. Behind the Landmark runs another parallel Arterial Road that connects Ecospace to Akanksha/Mangaldeep Rotary on the Main Arterial Road of Newtown. Behind the Bui9lding Housing Ecospace, on its North and North East Side and next to the aforesaid road leading to Mangaldeep Rotary lies a vast expanse of grassland, commonly called the ‘Red Munia Zone’. The grasslands are limited on the East by the Shikharpur canal and beyond the canal lies an even larger marshy land. The expanse of this Grassland and the Marsh can be seen clearly from the upper floors of International Finance Centre and hence from the Office of National Green Tribunal. This Marsh land is situated in the Kadampukur Village area. The expanse is huge. By estimation this grassland is at least 2 kilometre long and a kilometre wide. It contains several waterbodies. The depth of the Marsh land, which is of even larger length, is unascertainable from the ground level by has to be in excess of a kilometre if not more. ‘Red Munia Zone’ features prominently by the name in Google Maps. ‘Red Munia Zone’ lies just across the road of the new land allotted to the Hon’ble High Court at Calcutta on its east.

 

This area has a vibrant wildlife collection. It comes alive every morning and late afternoon with the chorus of bird. The Marsh and Grassland harbour several species of resident birds and some migrant birds apart from reptiles insects and small mammals like Indian Golden Jackal, Fishing Cats(The State Animal of West Bengal and an endangered Species) and Mongoose. A joint Study was conducted by the West Bengal Housing Infrastructural Development Company Ltd. and the West Bengal Forest Department. This study had confirmed presence of at least 28 Species of Birds. Birds which are frequently found in this Area inter alia are Phesant-Tailed Jacana, Bronze Winged Jacana, Moorehens, white breasted Waterhens, Watercock, Openbills, Egrets (both Little and Large), pond Herons, Purple Heron, Lapwings, Plaintive Acorbian and Jacobin Cuckoos, Baya Weaver, Oriental Darter or Snake Bird, Citrine and other species of wagtails, several Species of Munia including Red Adavat or Red Munia, Indian Rollers, Black tailed Godwits, Spotted Owls, Eurasian WryneckRed Necked Falcons, Indian Spotted Eagles, Bushlark, Zitting Cisticola, Striated Grassbirds, Little Grebes Whistling Ducks, Cormorants, Coucals, collared Dove and Woodpekers of several kinds. Yesterday some of us had the opportunity to take pictures of Shikra Baaz. This is not counting the Kingfishers, The Shrikes, the Treepies, the Magpie Robins, the Bulbuls, the Babblers, the Palm Swifts, the Orioles, the pied Starlings the Prinias, the Pippits, the Stonechats, the common Mynas and Black Kites.

Birds occupy Many heads of Trophic Webs, from mid-levels consumers to the top predators. As with other native prganisms, birds help maintain sustainable population of their prey and predator species. Without birds the insect and rodent population, which would then require articial control which is effect shall pollute the ground water. Dead birds also feed the scavangers and decomposes to rejuvenate the soil. Birds also act as an important agent of reproduction of plants and spread of pollen. Some Birds are considered keystone species as their presence in or disappearance from ecosystem affects other species.

Setting Bush on fire at various spots in Newtown is becoming a regular affair. As a result not just air pollution level is getting enhanced, an irreparable damage to flora and fauna is also being affected. ‘Red Munia Zone’ and grasslands behind the International Finance Centre that houses The National Green Tribunal, is a prime target alongwith the lands behind the Bengal Silicon Valley zone.  The long stretch of grassland of the ‘Red Munia Zone’ was put to torch earlier this month. It led to death of many birds including scores of Red Munia Chicks and the area sported a barren look for some days. This was reported in Newspapers. Though some noises were made by the authorities, no effective steps have emerged.

Further, at the corner where the road leading from Owl More meets the  Shikharpur canal where the ‘Red Munia Zone’ is situated, Newtown Kolkata Development Authority has placed 4 Vats where garbage from Eco Urban Village area are dumped. The ideas is that the garbage dumped there would be picked up by larger vehicles. This of course never happens in a disciplined manner. Foul smell will greet you as you try to step into the Grassland. As the grassland got torched, now garbage also is getting dumped on the burnt grassland next to the road. The garbage so dumped also gets blown into the entire stretch of land. In addition, labouers working in nearby project also come with vans to dump construction waste. Sunday evening I saw a group were cooking and having their food and disposing off their waste in the canal. The canal itself supports local fishermen. This indiscriminate disposal of garbage would surely affect the waterbodies adversely and pollute the whole area.

In last three days 3 major fires were reported  in Newtown, all in the surroundings of the building where National Green Tribunal is situated. In fact from the office all these fires could easily be seen. Yet nothing much is being done. Even this morning I saw bush burning behind Saini Toyota workshop.

Please realise that birds is particular helps in controlling insect and pest population. If their habitat gets polluted, the birds will find new habitat and that’d mean proliferation of insect population as also lesser spread of Pollens. And in any event a vibrant bird habitat cannot be allowed to go to waste.

 

 Newtown is branded and marketed as a smart city. A smart city must also protect its ecology which includes the existing wild life or urban jungle. While efforts to increase greenery inform of  Amlaki Bon or planting 50000 Chrysanthemums and various other steps are being planned and implemented, if the destruction of the natural ecological habitats like Red Munia Zone or the waterbodies around Eco Urban Village or elsewhere in Newtown are not stemmed then the pollution level cannot be checked and the effect of the destruction would be counter-productive to all excellent planning and development being done.

Hence, it is prayed that the Department of Forest, Government of West Bengal, the Newtown Kolkata Development Authorities take necessary and effective steps expeditiously including but not limited to those set forth hereafter:

1.   To stop burning of Grasslands and Bushes including sensetization of the locals;

2.   To trim the Grasslands regularly where it tend to block the roads;

3.   To prevent dumping of garbage and Waste including Construction waste in open fields and near  waterbodies marshes and Grasslands. In fact the Municipal Laws bar such indiscriminate disposal;

4.   To remove the Garbage Vats from the Red Munia Zone and rigorously monitor and prevent disposal of any form of waste there;

5.    To declare the Red Munia Zone as an area of ecological importance and protect the same.

A slew of steps have been ordered to protect the Rabindra Sarobar Lakes and its biodiversity, the Santragachhi Lake as also the Kolkata Maidans and other waterbodies in the megacity. The Newtown Wetlands, Grasslands and Marshes also need to be similarly protected. These will function as the Lungs of newtown once the development covers all lands which have been allotted or will be allotted in future. Unless steps are taken from this early stage, destruction and encroachment will result in these biodiversity hot spots disappearing completely.

 

Jayjit Ganguly

Uniworld City, Flat no. 203, Harmony Tower 3

Newtown, West Bengal 700160.

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