HYDERABAD: The city of Hyderabad and its outskirts once boasted of numerous lakes. For many years, several of these major lakes have been the nesting grounds of the variety of avian species from far off lands, which migrate seasonally every year (spcially during winter).
With each passing year the number of migratory birds are decreasing. Though there is no specific statistical records to suggest a decrease in the arrival of these birds, there seems to be a declining trend in the number and variety of migratory birds visiting our lakes. With indiscriminate destruction of biodiversity, deforestation, and encroachment of water bodies are considered as the major reasons of concern; factors like inconsistent rainfall and climate change are equally learnt to be crucial.
In Hyderabad, lakes like Mir Alam tank, Saroornagar lake, Shamirpet lake, Ameenpur lake, Safilguda lake etc are some of the favourite haunt of the migratory birds. “We cannot say there is a decline in numbers only because we do not see those big birds at times. Birds are genetically coded to migrate,” said members of Birdwatchers Society of Andhra Pradesh. “At the same time, pollution does take a toll on them and we do not know if the same birds survive after going back and if they are the same ones who come back next year,” they added.
R Hampaiah, chairman of Andhra Pradesh Biodiversity Board echoes the same views. He raised the issue of encroachment, deforestation etc around city lakes as major concern. “At some lakes there might be a decline in number of migratory birds, but still they come,” he said.
According to him, since all water bodies gets filled up in monsoon creating enough food for birds, they are bound to arrive. “We need to preserve the existing lakes. Those are lost already are impossible to recreate. Out of 400 lakes in the city, today only around 40 odd lakes are free from encroachments,” he added, suggesting that fencing of lakes need to be done immediately.
The migratory birds from Central Asia start off in search of habitats in India and Sri Lanka when the heavy winter sets in. Their major stop over points in India are Chilka lake in Odisha, Osmansagar lake in Hyderabad and Kolleru lake in Andhra Pradesh and then Pulicat lake and Point Calimere wildlife and bird sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. On the other hand, Farida Tampal the state director of WWF-India, says, “Certainly there is a sharp decline in the number of migratory birds arriving in the country. Due to global warming and climate change, if the weather in parent country is favourable even during winters, they might not want to migrate.”
R Deepak, field researcher and education officer of WWF-India in Hyderabad, added, “There is a fluctuation in migration. Bar-headed Goose, Greater Flamingo, Pelicans etc are not seen every year. Few years ago, we had spotted a ‘Gray Lapwing’ in Hussain Sagar lake. It was never spotted before or after. With expansion of city, they might have went to other suitable habitats in the outskirts.”
According to Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA), as many as 2,857 lakes exist under the HMDA limits. Out of this, 455 lakes fall within the Outer Ring Road (ORR) and 2,402 are outside the ORR area. The lakes falling within the HMDA jurisdiction, 168 lakes are in the GHMC limits and 2,689 lakes are in gram panchayats and other municipalities outside the GHMC in the HMDA limits. HMDA’s ‘Adopt a Lake’ scheme announced in April last year aimed at sharing of responsibility of preserving the lake with participation from public and private institutions. The HMDA has recently issued a notification of Full Tank Level (FTL) boundaries and buffer zones of 50 water bodies which were encroached.
Explaining the pathetic state of affairs at Ameenpur lake where once the migratory birds used to visit, Thakur Rajkumar Singh, a lake activist and bird watching enthusiast rued, “Due to massive borewell activities, release of sewage, breaking of hillocks and deforestation, the lake which once used to be habitat of a variety of birds, is dying.” Government cannot wash its hands off from preservation of ecosystems, he added.
A Call for Ecosystem
■ Lakes like Ameenpur, Mir Alam tank, Shameerpet, Saroornagar, Osmansagar etc frequented by migratory birds from central Asian region
■ As many as 2,857 lakes are there under HMDA. Of this 455 fall within Outer Ring Road
■ Monsoon and climate change are major cause for fluctuation in migration of birds
■ Other reasons include deforestation, urbanisation etc.