Adventure park spells bad news for birds here

The recently inaugurated adventure park by Sanjay Lake in east Delhi doesn’t amuse everyone. Birdwatchers claim it has interfered with the local habitat of winged visitors to the lake. According to them, fewer ducks were spotted this year.

Local birders say the lake hosts 90 varieties of birds – a healthy number considering size of the artificial lake. “The lake used to have large number of ducks, both migratory and resident ones. The migratory ducks included common pochard, northern pintaill, northern shovellers, tufted duck, etc. Common coots were also seen in large numbers,” says Subramaniam Venketramani, a Mayur Vihar resident.

The woodland surrounding the lake hosts a large variety of birds like common chiffchaff, lesser whitethroat, humes warbler, spotted owlet and common hawk cuckoo.

“On any given day one can spot red-breasted flycatchers. The park also harbours common avian varieties like cormorants, darter, black-crowned night heron, purple heron and grey heron are also seen,” he says. The park also has mongooses and monitor lizards.

But local birders indicate that the habitat was disrupted when Delhi Development Authority, the central land owning agency, began building its largest adventure park last year. The place has emerged as a hub for visitors and the local crowd alike since its inauguration in December.

Entry fee for the park is a nominal Rs 10. A stretch of the lake is being used for rides on two-seater, five-seater and 15-seater rafts. The young kids can play volleyball next to the lake. And the fun-mongers can throw stones at the birds.

The park offers soft adventure activities such as water sports, treehouse course, archery, beach volleyball, and many more, with distinct sections dedicated to both kids and adults.

Since the adventure park came up, a line of over 100 newly planted trees dot the lakeside. The park also has a beautiful lawn since it was designed keeping nature lovers in mind. In a city which is choking due to air pollution, the park is at least a breather for local residents visiting the place.

“I love coming to this place with my girlfriend. It’s a wonderful way of spending your weekend,” says Mayur Vihar resident Kumar Ankit. He has been a regular visitor to Sanjay Lake since his college days between 2008 and 2011.

Things however, aren’t the same for the birds. “This lake is suffering from habitat disturbance due to various constructions going on in the name of Metro stations and the adventure park,” he says. The nearby Trilokpuri is about to be linked with the Metro.

“Boatmen have been deployed by someone to drive away the ducks. Hence, this year only few ducks have been spotted in Sanjay Jheel,” says Venketramani.

Another concern is drain water being allegedly fed to the artificial lake under the DDA. Environmentalists say waste water from nearby apartments is directly led into the lake, causing pollution.

Untreated gutter water allegedly seeps into the lake near Lal Bhadur Shastri Hospital in neighbouring Khichripur.

But all is not bad with the local fauna. This year, great crested grebe was seen. Local birdwatchers claim they saw it for the first time. “It was seen and one avid birder from Mayur Vihar, Shri Sunil Kumar, reported on our WhatsApp group,” says Venketramani.

DDA claims that less than 10 per cent of the lake area was used for the adventure club. “We made sure that no trees were damaged during construction. In fact, we have planted 150 trees,” says an official.

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