In a major relief to the residents of the Maharashtra’s tourism capital Aurangabad city, the National Board of Wildlife’s (NBWL) standing committee headed by the union minister of environment, forest and climate change Bhupender Yadav has approved the proposal to use 1.56 hectares from Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary for city water supply.
The proposal was recommended by Chief WildLife Warden, State Board for Wild Life and the State Government. The Bombay high Court had also issued directions regarding this project. The NBWL’s standing committee has laid down eight conditions while giving its nod. The NBWL’s standing committee had given its go ahead on July 29 but its minutes were uploaded on August 30. This is important as the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi government and BJP were engaged in the war of words over the water scarcity of the Aurangabad city.
The State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) in June approved the Rs 1,680.5-crore water pipeline that will run through the Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary for Aurangabad, which is grappling with a water crisis. Nathsagar reservoir of Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary caters to Aurangabad city. According to estimates, the city requires 278 million litres of water daily. The pipeline, commissioned in 1975-76, was designed to carry 56 MLD and is now functioning below 50 per cent capacity, while a pipeline of 100 MLD capacity, which was installed in 1991-92, is damaged. Jayakwadi bird sanctuary, spread over 341.05 square kilometres in Aurangabad and Ahmednagar districts, was notified in 1986. It is home to 234 species of resident and migratory birds, among other creatures.
According to NBWL’s standing committee, while constructing the Jack well, care will be taken to prevent the damage to fish population by avoiding physical disturbance to the shore line. The Project Agency will ensure that at least 13 TMC water is retained in the reservoir for birds at any time of the year so that water and food is available to the birds throughout the year.
The Project Agency will ensure that the water in the reservoir is not contaminated or polluted due to construction or maintenance work. ‘’Jayakwaid Bird Sanctuary is a drought prone area. It is an important site for migratory birds. To provide ample food & water to the birds, at least 50% of dead water need to be stored in the Sanctuary at any point of time of year so that even if there is less rain in the subsequent monsoon, the remaining water can take care of the winter visiting birds.Technology which reduces noise in construction activities should be used. There is a possibility of high habitat disturbance due to use of explosives in digging wells. Therefore, controlled blasting needs to be undertaken while digging the jackwell. If possible, blasting should be avoided,’’ it said.
Furthermore, the NBWL’s standing committee observed that generally dead water storage is not tapped in normal situations, If the present proposal envisages drawing water even from the dead water storage, it should be critically examined.
The project proponent would deposit 2% of the project cost for works inside the Sanctuary and its ESZ (eco sensitive zone) area with the Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife), Aurangabad for conservation and management of wildlife in the State of Maharashtra. Annual compliance certificate on the stipulated condition would be submitted by the project proponent to the State Chief WildLife Warden which would also submit the annual compliance certificate to Government of India.