Several species of beautiful birds have been forced into leaving the Garhi Mandu city forest area due to rise in pollution and loss of habitat. The forest area is spread over 894 acres in northeast Delhi.
Locals and civic workers are dumping debris and plastic waste in a huge natural wetland, which borders as much as 60 per cent of the south and eastern boundaries of this protected forest. Regular burning of garbage is causing severe air and water pollution.
On the filled up land, vegetable cultivation has also started. Water from the wetland is being regularly pumped out for cleaning vehicles and cultivation. Regular fishing is also disturbing the habitat and food chain of thes birds by causing the wetland to dry up. Open thoroughfare and playgrounds around the wetlands have also disturbed nesting.
“Resident waterbirds scared away so far include oriental darter, spot-bill duck, great and little cormorant, cinnamon bittern, white-throated kingfisher, purple swamphen, Indian moorhen,” said ecologist TK Roy. Birds, whose nesting has been disturbed, include green bee-eater, bank mynah, dabchik, and blackwinged still.
“The wetland attracts several species but despite repeated requests from environmentalists, the government is yet to notify the wetland. That’s why it’s unprotected and officially not part of the city forest,” he said.
“While so much money is being spent to save wetlands, a natural one along this city forest has been left neglected. Once the wetland is notified by the government for its protection, Garhi Mandu City Forest will be combined forest land of terrestrial and wetland habitats,” he said. The city forest is rich in biodiversity. The first-ever bird count at Garhi Mandu, conducted on February 24 this year, found 90 species, including 26 migratory and several threatened birds. “We found 33 species of waterbirds, including 13 migratory ones. Of the 57 species of terrestrial birds, 13 were migratory,” said Roy, who conducted the count.
The city forest shares its eastern boundary with colonies such as Shastri Park, Jagjit Nagar and Usmanpur along the Pushta Road which branches off National Highway 24. On the other side, it borders the left bank of the Yamuna.
The principle of Reduce Reuse Recycle cannot be over-emphasized.
As we reduce our consumption (especially of goods), the world would have less need for energy and resources (especially raw materials), and in the process produce less pollution (whether via the manufacturing industries, or the disposal of waste created through consumption).
REDUCE – As we reduce our waste, we would need to use less energy and resources for handling our unwanted waste. There would be less pollution arising from the landfills and the incinerators.
REUSE – Reusing helps us to reduce our consumption of new materials, as well as help to reduce the waste that we create as an entire population.
RECYCLE – Recycling allows us to reuse the materials in unwanted items to make new items. In this way, valuable resources that would otherwise contribute to pollution (eg. non-biodegradable materials or materials that release harmful substances when burnt) can be diverted away from landfills and incinerators and given a new lease of life in new products. Beyond environmental benefits of recycling, recycling also benefits the human economy and can be political.
GREEN SOLUTION. GET GREEN.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!
In our day-to-day activities, we actually release substantial amount of toxic substances into the environment.
Have you ever think about the shampoo, soap and cleaning detergent that you use. Many of them contain chemicals that are washed down the sinks and pipes, into drains, rivers, reservoirs or even the sea.
Think about the fast-food lunch you had. In the process of producing the bread, meat patty and salad for the burger, chemicals in the form of pesticides, man-made fertilizers and even hormones are released into the lands, water and air. The wrappers used in packaging the meal is bound for the landfills and incinerators (because it is very hard to recycle them). In turn, harmful gases are released when the wrappers (as well as other waste) are buried or burnt.
Think about the car that you drive to work, or even the bus or cab that you take to your office. These vehicles emit greenhouse gases (contributing to global warming) and toxic substances like lead (harmful to living things, including the human body) into the atmosphere.
And we have yet to reach the part on the amount of chemicals and poisonous gases produced by factories and industries, in the process of manufacturing the various items we use (eg. electronics, clothes, paper and plastic products, furniture, packaged food etc), or extracting energy resources (eg. oil, coal, etc) from the earth.
In our modern day life, it may be hard to leave zero trace of toxic substances, or create zero pollution in our activities. So many of the things that we use on a daily basis contain some form of chemicals, or are produced through the use of some chemicals. Despite the pollution caused, we would still need to travel to work, whether by private or public transport. And we definitely need to consume food.
GREEN SOLUTION. GET GREEN.
Consider switching to more natural cleaners and personal products, such as natural detergents, or organic detergents, as well as organic shampoos and lotions. Made of natural substances instead of man-made chemicals, minimal harmful chemicals are used in the process of their production. At the same time, these natural products are ready bio-degradable and do little harm even when released into the environment, because they are found in the natural environment in the first place.
Switch to organically grown food if you can. Organically grown food is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that would harm the environment, as well as hormones or genetic re-engineering. What’s more, organically grown food are so much healthier, because they are free of carcinogens and heavy metals (as a result of the synthetic chemicals), as well as more nutritious. And keep away from fast-food!
Also, what does going green mean in practice is to drive less, and use the public transport instead. You can even opt for carpool service in case the option is available. Automobiles are one of the single largest sources of air pollution on earth today, and the harmful gases released contribute to global warming and climate changes. By taking public transport (such as buses and trains), you are actually helping to reduce the number of automobiles on this earth, and hence the amount of air pollution produced by these vehicles.
Open burning of leaves, which has for ages been pretty much the norm for getting rid of fallen leaves in winter, has come under the scanner of pollution watchdogs for releasing huge amounts of soot, harmful particles and toxic gases aggravating air pollution. Sweepers and gardeners in public parks have been found burning leaves in large heaps. They have been doing this for years as a habit. Notices are served to civic bodies and other agencies too.
Traditionally, burning of leaves in the winter has been an integral part of the maintenance of parks in the city, in order to prevent the huge heaps of dry leaves from adding to the municipal solid waste stream.
But what makes this a huge problem is that there around 3,700 ornamental parks, almost 10,000 ordinary/neighbourhood parks and about 80 children’s parks across Delhi. “So the amount of leaves that burn in winter is just enormous. They are usually burnt in the mornings, mostly filling the area with smoke and soot,” he said.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), in its soon-to-be published Source Apportionment Study, which pinpoints the sources and the amount of each air pollution component, has mentioned burning of leaves as a source of winter pollution in Delhi and elsewhere.
That apart, burning of leaves and woods also release the cancer-causing organic compound called benzene and toxic gas carbon monoxide in large amounts, said Dr T.K. Joshi of Centre for Environment and Occupational Health at Maulana Azad Medical College. “Small children are at graver risk. Joggers and all who inhale more air in the morning are also greatly exposed to it,” he said.
A UN report had recently called Delhi one of the most polluted Asian metropolises.
Burning leaves also adds to the formation of thick smog in winters.