KOCHI: Mangalavanam, once a haven for migratory birds, will get a lease of life with the Kochi Corporation finally deciding to keep its rich biodiversity intact. The water body connecting the sanctuary to the Vembanad Lake will be desilted for the purpose.
The decision comes after several migratory birds bypassed the sanctuary owing to the lack of vegetation, water and food. The civic body has set aside `25 lakh for the cleaning project proposed by the Mangalavanam Advisory Committee to preserve the sanctuary.
“Since this is a marshy wetland, it lacks depth to hold more water,” said Mayor Soumini Jain who visited the dredging spot on Thursday, accompanied by MLA Hibi Eden and councillors.
“So we have decided to dredge the area and thereby facilitate better living conditions for migratory birds.”
A study conducted by the Salim Ali Centre For Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) had suggested the Forest Department initiate dredging to provide favourable living conditions for migratory birds inside the sanctuary. “Dredging is being carried out in an environment-friendly manner as it won’t harm the current ecosystem. Once the canals are properly connected to the backwaters, fish will start breeding and that will normally attract the birds to the sanctuary,” the Mayor said.
The Corporation is planning to complete the dredging process before summer. They have also planned to release fishlings. “If the sanctuary was a home to 108 species of birds earlier, the number has come down to 72,” said Manu MS, Beat Forest officer.
“The major reasons for migratory birds bypassing the sanctuary are lack of water, food and pollution. The sanctuary is also home to several rare trees and insects. The Corporation is planning to desilt an area of 3,000 cubic metres.”
However, bird lovers fear Mangalavanam may not get back its golden time. “The highrises around the sanctuary have changed its nature. Even wind is not entering the sanctuary properly. The wetland should be declared a buffer zone of 5-10 km radius after dredging and revitalisation. The lush vegetation at Mangalavanam is the lone green lung for Kochi, which is now facing severe pollution,” said an environmental activist.