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Save Okhla to save the tiger

 
The Hindutan Times, New Delhi, 2nd August, 2010
 
A country that can’t even stop the infamous NOIDA Park, built as a grand memorial, and save the Okhla Bird Sanctuary is certainly not fit enough to stop the decline of the tiger. After all, in both cases, the problem is the decline of a healthy habitat.
 
The Ministry of Environment and Forests’ stand in the courts late last week-that it would need more time — is just not good enough, because it is delaying and perhaps reducing the chances of the Okhla Sanctuary’s recovery. It is also giving false hope of a win-win solution.
 
Already, other wetlands have more birds, even the earliest winter vistors. Okhla is somewhat barren. Only one sane solution will work — stop work at the Park quickly and permanently, replant some species and let the rest take over to recreate the original eco-system, and ban other projects in the proposed sensitive zone.
 
Does this sound like an extreme idea? It shouldn’t. It’s exactly what we need if we care for glamorous creatures like the Tiger or more humble ones such as the Prinias and Munias that seasoned birders say are declining in Okhla. The number one crisis the tiger faces in India is the loss of habitat. Forget half-way solutions in politically sensitive projects, or in projects where investments have already been made. We need a firmer ‘No’.
 
Not a drop is stored, we also need firm action when it comes to adapting to global warming. Everywhere across cities — large or small — there have been acute water shortages, worsened these last few years. Strangely, there is no water harvesting code in practice, so rain water can be absorbed into the earth and recharge the ground water without heroic individual efforts.
 
The water situation is expected to worsen due to climate change, but instead of preparing, our city administrators have morphed into Neros, pretending nothing is wrong.
 
As citizens, we have to push for laws that allow no new buildings or refurbishing, or new developments without mandatory water harvesting.