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Civic body commissions study to assess crocodiles in Powai lake

A proposal has been submitted for the same and sharing more information, Additional Municipal Commissioner, P Velarasu has said that the civic body will consider the same once the cost and the necessary budget is approved.

Civic body commissions study to assess crocodiles in Powai lake
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The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), for the first time, has decided to assess the population of Indian marsh crocodiles, which are often seen in the Powai lake. For several years, a few environmentalists in the city have been demanding the same, and after thorough consideration, the civic body has approved the plan along with the proposal of building a 10.2km long cycle track around the lake.

Experts state that this will help in understanding the number of crocodiles and other aspects, as a census has never been conducted before. Meanwhile, Maharashtra State Angling Association estimates that there could be 40-50 adult crocodiles in the lake.

The proposal has been given for a six-month study, the team of which is led by herpetologist Dr Kedar Bhide. A report regarding the same was published in the Hindustan Times. Six experts will be a part of the panel appointed by the BMC who will work jointly on ways to implement the project, improve vegetation, remediate the lake, manage weed, etc. including the monitoring of oxygen levels. An approval for the same is yet to be received.

Sharing more information, Additional Municipal Commissioner, P Velarasu has said that the civic body will consider the same once the cost and the necessary budget is approved. He also assured that the animals and their habitat will not be harmed during the cycle track project. Necessary steps will be taken and the team will be alerted regarding the same.ssss

In a conversation with the Hindustan Times, Dr. Bhide said that the team will count the number of crocodiles both during the day and night, by following accepted methodologies, thereby understand the population inhabiting the Powai lake. Though a rough estimate has been received, officials do not have a confirmed data or study, nor any such project has been implemented before. Moreover, the study will also help experts understand their basking and nesting areas along with the use of the habitat.

Different aspects will be studied over the next few months by observing their patterns and habits starting the end of 2021 to mid-2022. Currently, the team is waiting for the water levels to recede which will help them begin with the field work.

A report will be prepared post the study which will help the civic body in planning future projects and during the development of the proposed cycle track. The motive behind the same is to ensure the biodiversity near the Powai lake is managed in the right way along with restoring the locality. SoP will be developed as the proposed cycle track will close to the animal habitat. This will help the municipal corporation take necessary action and offer immediate response in cases of emergency. Moreover, appointment of wildlife rescue teams is being considered to ensure safety.

On the other hand, several environmentalists have opposed the cycle track and lake rejuvenation ideas stating that the number of tourists could hinder the animal habitat. Animal experts state that due to the plans like land encroachment, the crocodile population, fishes and other fauna in the lake has reduced over the last decrease or more.

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