NATURE IN DANGER
Illegal constructions have always been a problem in the city but illegal encroachments at the Salim Ali Lake area raises a serious issue. At the entrance of the joggers' track near the Salim Ali Lake, few illegal shops have emerged. Such construction default the AMC rules as well as the biodiversity of the place. “Everyone is aware of these constructions yet no action is been taken by the civic body,” says a regular jogger of that area.
Home to several species of migratory birds, the lake was closed for public since September 2014 following an order from the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court banning different beautification work and human activities in and around the lake. As per studies were done in past, the Salim Ali Lake is home to around 64 bird species as permanent residents, while another 24 migratory bird species also visit the water body. The lake hosts nearly 16 tree species, 11 shrub types, 8 climbers, 32 terrestrial herbaceous plants, 10 varieties of algae, 12 of aquatic herbs, 16 aquatic insects and crustaceans, nine varieties of fish, 15 species reptiles, seven types of rodents and mammals and 102 types of insects among other creatures. “Everyone is aware of these constructions yet no action is been taken by the civic body,” says a regular jogger of that area.
The Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) swung into action and removed part of these temporary structures after complaints in the newspaper. But people complain that the breaking down of these structures was selective and not all the illegal properties were demolished. Owners of the encroachments are agitating against unfair demolishing. The anti-encroachment staff of local civic body reached the lake early on Wednesday morning and razed the structures that had come up near the entry of a walkway. "I am going to sit for indefinite agitation in front of AMC for such partial action. It is huge injustice to us and we will raise our voice against such discrimination," says Rajendra Sawaiwala who claims to have the ownership of the fringe area land of 180 feet by 115 feet. On the other hand, M B Kazi, in-charge of the anti-encroachment department of AMC, refuted charges of selective action near Salim Ali Lake. "We are duty bound to act against all illegal activities. The crackdown near the lake has just been initiated and would continue till it is completed," he said.
As per the environmentalists, in 1984 Dr Salim Ali, legendary ornithologist, had visited the lake during his stay in Aurangabad and recognized its rich and diverse birdlife. Since then, the lake was named after him with experts consistently demanding that Salim Ali Lake area to be declared as a biodiversity hotspot. Environmentalist Kishor Pathak said selective crackdown against illegal activities in and around Salim Ali Lake was not going to serve the main purpose of conserving the biodiversity of the water body.
Such encroachments are violation of the Aurangabad bench of Bombay high court verdict, which in 2014 clearly asked the AMC to conserve the biodiversity at the lake by banning any human activity. Preservation and development of that biodiversity zone of the city lies in the hands of AMC and vigilant watch out and actions are required by the authority.