Officials at the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park are proposing prohibitory orders on boating in the 32-acre Katraj lake from next month onwards, as the activity is endangering the habitat of migratory birds known frequent this water body.
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), which runs the zoo, had received instructions from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) last year to prohibit fishing and boating activities at the lake since it was threatening the ecosystem and endangering aquatic life.
The PMC banned fishing, despite facing protests from the fishing community and politicians, but it has not yet enforced the ban on boating, which is operated by the Maha-rashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
The MTDC runs about 15 boats and charges a fee of Rs 100 per boat per hour for enthusiasts turning up in large numbers to explore the 32-acre lake each day. “We are planning to ban boating completely as it is causing harm to the environment at the lake. The habitat of migratory birds around the lake might just disappear in the long run if these activities continue,” said Rajkumar Jadhav, director of the zoo.
He added that though the boating activity is being conducted by the MTDC for the sole purpose of making a profit, the resulting damage to the environment is not being taken into consideration.
“We will look into the files, which are lying at the PMC’s Sambhaji garden office since the past year. We’ll have to follow the guidelines set up by the CZA under the Zoo Policy, 1998,”Jadhav said.
Haunt of many birds
Environmentalists, who earlier conducted a survey around he area, discovered the presence of waders like pintail, northern shoveller duck, brahminy shell duck, plover, little-ringed plover, redshank, greenshank and residents birds like
babblers, white breasted kingfishers and wagtails near the lake. “We have also noticed black winged stilt, northern shoveller and predatory falcons near the lake.
The birds will start arriving during the first month of the monsoon. The tranquility of the ecosystem gets disturbed as a result of tourists dirtying the water and the constant boating activity,” said Taha Loova, an environmental activist.
The fishing ban had disgruntled local fishermen as they claimed to have paid Rs 3.75 lakh for an annual licence an signed a five-year agreement with the PMC to fish in the lake
from April 7, 2010 to April 6, 2015.