the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday stressed the need to maintain and preserve the ecosystem and biodiversity of the Sandi Bird Sanctuary, located in the Hardoi district of the state.
The bench of Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Subhash Vidyarthi observed this while handling a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea offered by Inner Wheel Club through its President Pooja Jain
Essentially, the applicant had moved towards the Court by pointing out the poor maintenance of the Sanctuary. The petitioner alleged that due to the negligence of the authorities, the lake, together with the bird sanctuary, is becoming a source of concern with regard to the preservation of biodiversity and ecology in the area.
It has also been brought to the Court’s attention that the Sandi Bird Sanctuary is a Ramsar site, which is based on the identification of wetlands under the Ramsar convention to which India is a signatory.
Also, the pleas stated that the state government had sanctioned quite a large sum for the maintenance and development of the lake and the bird sanctuary, however, its current status is unsatisfactory.
In this context, the Court had requested the response from the Government of Uttar Pradesh on March 5, 2022. The Court had also asked the Ministry of Tourism if there was any plan to develop Sandi Wetland as a tourist spot or as whether an attempt has already been made to develop it as such.
Read more about the court’s March 5 order here: Allahabad High Court Seeks Government’s Response On PIL Filed For ‘Improper Maintenance’ Of Sandi Bird Sanctuary
Now, on April 12, 2022, the Court has been informed that maintenance of the lake and bird sanctuary is being carried out by the Department of Forestry and no project is under consideration either for the maintenance or for the repair of the lake at the Service du Tourisme.
However, the Court in its order noted that the lake as a Ramsar wetland site already exists and that the Department of Tourism is not expected to incur any expense for the maintenance or repair of the lake, but, the Court added, to make the lake a tourist spot, some amenities may be provided by the Department of Tourism or the UP State Tourism Development Corporation.
The Court also clarified that the present petition should not be considered as an adversarial dispute between the petitioners and the state government or its organs/authorities.
In this regard, the Court emphasized that the effort of all those involved in the petition is to prevent erosion and damage to the wetland and to maintain and preserve the ecosystem and biodiversity of the sanctuary of ‘birds.
Furthermore, when the Court was informed that the lake was currently suffering from water shortage due to the fact that during the past monsoons adequate rainfall had not been recorded, the Court asked if the water of the bird sanctuary could be supplied by any means other than rainwater.
To this question, the Court was told by the Wild Life Warden that an effort had been made to bring water to the bird sanctuary from the nearby flowing Garra River, using a lift channel. However, he further informed that even the lifting channel could not be operational at its full capacity due to several issues found due to the inadequate voltage of the power supply.
In this context, in an attempt to resolve the issue, the Court ordered the District Magistrate, Hardoi as follows:
“coordinate among the various departments at the district level to resolve day-to-day issues faced by Forestry Department officials so that Forestry Department officials can devote themselves with the greatest possible zeal to the upkeep of the lake. It shall be the duty of the district magistrate to co-ordinate between the officials of the different departments to achieve the said object..”
Finally, the public prosecutor was instructed to again seek instructions from the tourism department in light of the previous court order of 05.03.2022 as well as the current situation of a motel, which was built on the site earlier.
With this, listing the case for a rehearing on May 9, 2022, the Court ordered the presence of the Conservator of the Forest (disappearing projects) for the assistance of the Court.
Case title – Club DOD Thru Inner Wheel. President Pooja Jain and Ors. v. State of UP Thru. Main Secy. Department of Forests and Ors
Click here to read/download the order