CHENNAI: Coming as a boost to conservation efforts, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is planning to notify 500 metres around Udhayamarthandapuram Bird Sanctuary in Thiruthuraipoondi taluk in Thiruvarur district as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ).
Once notified, all commercial activities in the area falling under 500-metre radius around the sanctuary will be regulated, without disturbing the current land use which is predominantly farming.
The union ministry is acting on a proposal sent by the State forest department.
A draft gazette notification, dated June 19, under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, has been prepared by the union environment ministry. The notification is expected to be made public soon in the ministry’s website (http://envfor.nic.in). Public can file their suggestions and objections within 60 days once the document is uploaded on the site.
Spread over 45.285 hectares, Udhayamarthandapuram Bird Sanctuary is basically an irrigation tank that is used for storing water for agriculture. It receives water from Mettur dam from August which is further supplemented by the north-east monsoon from October till January.
The tank remains completely dry from March to August. It was declared a sanctuary in 1998 having been an important roosting site for local migrants and resident water birds. It has a good diversity of mammals, reptiles and many endangered species.
The notification, a copy of which is available with Express, says an area of 2.213 sq.km is notified as eco-sensitive zone. The ministry has asked Tamil Nadu government to prepare a Zonal Master Plan for ESZ within two years from the date of publication of final notification in the gazette in consultation with local people.
The ministry has also constituted a seven-member monitoring committee, headed by Thiruvarur district Collector, for effective monitoring of the provisions of the notification. As per the ESZ map of the sanctuary, three villages - Udayamarthandapuram, Sirupanaiyur and Nachikulam - fall within the zone with a population of 8,700. More than 80 per cent of the zone area is in agriculture use.
The notification says Zonal Master Plan shall not restrict approved existing land use, but would prohibit all activities that are hazardous with immediate effect, if any, like commercial mining and polluting industries.
Activities like hotels will be regulated with one kilometre of the boundary of the protected area. There shall be no felling of trees even on private lands.
Principal Conservator of Forests RK Upadhyay told Express that the State government has submitted proposals for ESZ for all the national parks and sanctuaries in Tamil Nadu.
“Union environment ministry is processing the proposals and in the next five months, draft notifications would be issued, except for Guindy National Park in Chennai, where notifying ESZ is not possible since it is surrounded by Raj Bhavan and IIT-Madras,” he said.
Rare species found
- Great Cormorant
- Purple Heron
- Little Green Heron
- Yellow Bittern
- Chestnut Bittern
- Black Bittern
- Comb Duck
- Spot-billed pelican
- Painted Stork
A site bristling with diverse flora and fauna
- It is spread over 45.28 hectares and an important roosting site for local migrants and resident water birds
- The site supports the largest congregation of Openbill Stork (over 5,000)
- This habitat is ideal for the breeding of three resident species of ducks, namely Lesser Whistling Duck, Comb Duck and Spot-billed Duck.
- The sanctuary has 55 species of avian fauna visiting and residing