Pune: A recent incident in Indapur tehsil where over 100 Painted Storks (bird species) were found dead or injured due to the axing of trees has brought to the fore administrative negligence towards protecting the birds and heritage trees in this region. According to Krishna Tate, member of the Indapur Tree Protection Civil Committee, the incident highlights the need for strict action against administrative officers flouting environmental norms.
According to Eco Rescue Daund – a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working closely with the forest department for the rescue of wild animals and birds in Indapur and Daund tehsils – at least 10 incidents have been reported in Indapur since last year wherein more than 100 local and migratory birds have been adversely impacted due to human intervention.
Gayatri Rajgurav-Avdhani, founder-member of Eco Rescue Daund, said, “In the last one year, we have rescued over 135 birds from Daund tehsil. This year, apart from the recent incident, over 35 birds have been rescued from Indapur tehsil in various rescue missions.”
“In recent incidents where Painted Storks and vultures and some other birds were found in a disturbed state, we have rescued more than 70 to 80 birds. Over the period, we have observed that human intervention has increased, hurting bird populations in Indapur, Daund, and some parts of Solapur district. This includes illegal or unscientific tree-cutting, garbage burning around trees, etc. We communicate regularly with all the stakeholders including the forest department, local authorities and citizens to avoid such incidents and safeguard the bird population in the area,” Rajgurav-Avdhani said.
Ajit Suryavanshi, range forest officer, Indapur Forest Range, said, “The recent incident was shocking. A case has also been registered against an unknown person as we don’t know the details yet. We have also issued an order to the civic authority in Indapur to provide details of the contractor who was assigned the job of cutting the trees and appropriate action will be taken after the investigation.”
Daund, Indapur, and some parts of Solapur district are home to hundreds of birds including migratory birds such as flamingos and several protected bird species. In Indapur, areas such as Kumbhargaon, Dikasal, Bhadalwadi, Dalaj, Palasdev, Gangan and Agoti Varna adjoining the Ujani watershed and surrounding villages have huge colonies of birds including Painted Storks, vultures, parrots, and many other species that have made the old trees in these areas their home.
Earlier too, bird populations have been impacted due to indiscriminate felling of trees for construction and other projects. Permissions are granted for such work but not without attendant conditions that are not followed by the workers/contractors resulting in the loss of bird habitat and bird injury and death in some cases. While the forest department does not have any formal estimate of the bird population in Indapur tehsil, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has recently surveyed the migratory birds in this area and the data is awaited, Suryavanshi said.
Reasons behind axing of trees/branches
There are many housing colonies of railway and court officials in Indapur and the residents of these colonies prefer to axe trees/branches to prevent birds from nesting in the trees close to their homes. Trees are also being cut for infrastructure development. According to experts, trees are razed without considering the impact in terms of loss of bird habitat and bird injury/death.