Vehicles banned at Asola Bhatti sanctuary to prevent ecological damage | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Vehicles banned at Asola Bhatti sanctuary to prevent disturbance and ecological damage

By, New Delhi
Feb 05, 2024 06:28 AM IST

Private vehicles will no longer be allowed into the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in Delhi, India, due to concerns about ecological damage caused by tourism.

Private vehicles will no longer be permitted into the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, Delhi’s chief wildlife warden has ordered, taking cognisance of an HT report in January that highlighted how hundreds of vehicles were entering the sanctuary on weekends to reach a lake 16-km inside.

HT reported on January 16 how hundreds of visitors were turning up and driving into the sanctuary, which is home to leopards, striped hyenas, and golden jackals. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo) PREMIUM
HT reported on January 16 how hundreds of visitors were turning up and driving into the sanctuary, which is home to leopards, striped hyenas, and golden jackals. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

HT reported on January 16 how hundreds of visitors were turning up and driving into the sanctuary, which is home to leopards, striped hyenas, and golden jackals. When HT visited the spot, dozens of cars had choked the way to Neeli Jheel, which has emerged as popular eco-tourism attraction over the past year with artificial waterfalls and landscaped gardens.

Officials aware of the matter said on Sunday that the chief wildlife warden Suneesh Buxy sent the directive to the deputy conservator of forests (South), barring the entry of outside vehicles to the sanctuary and asking for standard operating procedures (SOP) for guided tours inside the facility.

“A news article dated January 15, 2024 in Hindustan Times... outlined the ecological pressures of tourism on Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. The article has been taken into serious consideration and hence, it is directed that no vehicle, apart from official vehicles and vehicles used for plantation purposes, would be allowed inside the sanctuary area. You are hereby directed to stop all vehicular movement and adopt eco-friendly measures like cycle tours, guided bicycle rides and EV golf carts for transport. During field trips and excursions, littering inside the sanctuary, especially plastic littering should be prohibited,” said the order, a copy of which HT has seen.

It further said that each tour must be a guided one, led by a forest guard, and that cycle tours should be allowed in groups of a maximum of 10 people only.

Buxy, when contacted, said the move was a precautionary one, made in order to prevent any ecological damage inside. He added that the SOP was under process and should be finalised soon.

“These are precautionary measures and we are looking to add additional golf carts and cycles. Vehicles inside the sanctuary have been restricted and only government vehicles for patrolling, plantation and forest activities are permitted,” he said.

Asola Bhati was declared a sanctuary in 1991, and the 32.7 sqkm area is part of the Southern Ridge — an extension of the Aravalli hill range — that forms an important wildlife corridor from Sariska in Rajasthan to the Capital.

The sanctuary has an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of around 15.55 sqkm (as declared by the Union ministry of environment and forests in 2017), which prohibits activities such as mining, quarrying, and discharge of effluents, and regulates construction and felling of trees. Activities permitted include rainwater harvesting, the use of eco-friendly transport, and the use of eco-friendly fuels.

When HT had carried out a spot-check on January 15, it found a parking near Neeli Jheel to accommodate over 50 vehicles, but at least 100-150 vehicles could were seen in queue, blowing dust in the process. Cars were also seen stopping regularly along the trail to click photographs of animals like the spotted deer and golden jackal. In one such instance, five different vehicles queued up to click photographs of a bevy of spotted deer, with some individuals entering the forested patch for a better view, causing the deer to flee.

Experts said the move is a welcome one as it will reduce the amount of disruption humans can create inside the sanctuary. “Along the trail, watering holes have been created and a number of animals, which would earlier come to these had stopped coming due to the sound of vehicles and the sheer number of vehicles passing by. This move should help change that and also prevent habitat destruction,” said Surya Prakash, a zoologist and birder who has been visiting the sanctuary for over two decades.

Unveiling 'Elections 2024: The Big Picture', a fresh segment in HT's talk show 'The Interview with Kumkum Chadha', where leaders across the political spectrum discuss the upcoming general elections. Watch now!

Continue reading with HT Premium Subscription

Daily E Paper I Premium Articles I Brunch E Magazine I Daily Infographics
freemium
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, April 14, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On