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Vadodara pond housing rare turtles ‘filled with mud’, authorities deny

Bharadwaj denied that any activity to fill up a city pond had been undertaken by the corporation.

By: Express News Service | Vadodara | Updated: October 6, 2014 6:42 pm

A pond in Kisanwadi area in Vadodara became a center of controversy on Sunday after locals raised an alarm over the sudden filling up of the water body to bring it to ‘land level’. The pond is home to decades old rare species of turtles protected under the Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act.

While dumpers bearing the Vadodara Mahanagar Seva Sadan (VMSS) logos went about the work, corporation officials denied having any knowledge of the pond being packed with mud. Municipal Commissioner Manish Bharadwaj has initiated an inquiry into the incident.

The filling up of an unnamed pond in Kisanwadi on Sunday brew up a storm with animal activists rushing in to rescue several gigantic soft shell turtles belonging to the Trianyx Gangeticus family, that inhabit the pond. According to activists, the filling up of the pond is “illegal” as it is the natural habitat of the turtles that are a protected species under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act. About 60 turtles live in this pond, activist say. Neha Patel, a city-based animal activist said, “I rushed here the moment I got a call .

This pond seems like an extension of an original historic well and there is evidence to show that it cannot be just another piece of private land as it is centuries old. This sudden dumping of sand into the pond without a thought for the protected species of turtles residing inside has been undertaken on a weekend to avoid any official procedure.” According to Patel, contractors working on the pond said that the land is a private property of an influential person from Vadodara. Activists also raised query on the presence of dumpers with the VMSS logo at the site.

Municipal Commissioner Manish Bharadwaj denied that any activity to fill up a city pond had been undertaken by the corporation. Bharadwaj, who rushed his officials to inspect the site has ordered the work to be stopped and initiated an inquiry into the incident. “We have sent our officers to the site and we are examining the documents of the land. If it is, it should be part of some town planning scheme.  I have asked my officers to get complete information about this and get back to me,” he said.

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