National Board for Wildlife gives nod for usage of 1.56 hectares of Jayakwadi for Aurangabad’s water supply scheme

The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has cleared a proposal for the usage of 1.56 hectares of forest land at Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary in Maharashtra for the water supply scheme in Aurangabad, which is facing a huge water crisis.

Jayakwadi is the largest earthen dam in Asia and the bird sanctuary is spread over 341 sq kms.

The meeting of the NBWL was held on July 29 and the minutes were uploaded on August 30.

The NBWL was told that diversion of 1.56 hectares of forest land was recommended by the Chief Wildlife Warden of Maharashtra.

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After discussions, the Standing Committee decided to recommend the proposal subject to the following conditions that while building the jack well, care will have to be taken to prevent the damage to fish population by avoiding physical disturbance to the shore line.

The project agency will ensure at least 13 TMC (thousand million cubic foot) water is retained in the reservoir for birds at any time of the year so that water and food is available to them throughout the year.

The project agency will also ensure the water in the reservoir is not contaminated or polluted due to construction or maintenance work.

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The Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary is a drought prone area. It is an important site for migratory birds. To provide ample food and water to the birds, at least 50 per cent of dead water needs to be stored in the sanctuary at any point of time of the year so that even if there is less rain in the subsequent monsoon, the remaining water can take care of the winter visiting birds, the minutes of the NBWL said.

The NBWL has said that technology, which reduces noise in construction activities should be used. There is a possibility of high habitat disturbance due to the use of explosives in digging wells. Therefore, controlled blasting needs to be undertaken while digging the jack well and blasting should be avoided if possible.

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 minutes said.

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The Chief Wildlife Warden of Maharashtra recommended the proposal for the diversion of the 0.0762 hectares of land for the steel gas pipe from Ahmednagar to Aurangabad.

While a proposal to clear another plot of 0.0762 hectares of forest land from the Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary was deferred. This project was recommended by the state wildlife warden for laying underground 24” Steel Gas Pipeline from Ahmednagar to Aurangabad by the Bharat Gas Resources Limited.

The member secretary pointed out that the contingency plan in case of gas leakage has not been provided with the proposal.

The Standing Committee decided to defer the proposal till the submission of a contingency plan by the state government in case of leakage of gas, which may affect the ecosystem.