Environmentalists have been crying foul against the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for long over the decline in the number of migratory birds flocking to Pashan lake. The reason they cite is the increasing human interference in the area. The protests are set to get louder as the civic body has decided to lease the Pashan lake spread over 15 hectares for fishing activity to a private agency.
“There have been demands from a few agencies to take up fishing in Pashan lake. Hence, the civic administration, after taking the consent of the civic environment department, has decided to allow fishing in the lake,” said R T Shinde, deputy municipal commissioner, in-charge of land and estate department of PMC.
He said fishing activities in the lake were banned during the period PMC undertook its restoration and beautification work. “Fishing can be resumed now. The civic environment department has given its consent while urging for laying conditions on the agency that would be allowed to carry out fishing,” Shinde said, adding the civic administration would lease the lake after following due administrative processes.
PMC environment officer Mangesh Dighe said the land and estate department had sought the opinion of the environment cell on leasing out Pashan lake for fishing. “We consulted experts and gave the opinion that fishing should be allowed in a controlled manner. They were urged to put conditions for fishing but unaware whether the decision over allowing fishing has been taken or not,” he added.
Among the list of conditions, the PMC will allow the agency to put up fishing nets of minimum mesh size of 6X6 inches so that only big fishes are trapped by fishermen for business. The fishing will only be done at night and no fishing will be allowed in the months of November, December and January.
Also, there will be no use of motor boats in the lake and the agency will be allowed to use maximum of two boats for fishing. The agency should issue identity cards to its personnel and they should wear life saving jackets while fishing.
The private agency will have to help the civic administration in removing water hyacinth from the lake and cooperate with the civic officers for carrying out scientific study of the lake. “The agency should take appropriate care to ensure there is no disturbance to birds visiting the lake and it would abide by the decisions of biodiversity committee,” it said adding the agency would be responsible for maintaining the lake and it should not carry out any activity other than fishing.
The fishing should be done only through nets and no other means including chemicals be used for fishing, it added.
Ornithologist Satish Pande said there was no need for PMC to allow human interference in the Pashan lake as it would disturb the bird population of the eco-sensitive area. “The Pashan lake was intended to be developed as sanctuary of birds and it was earmarked for the purpose as its a unique place that has seen many migratory birds,” he added.
Pande said, “There has been decline in the number of migratory birds in the lake due to human interference but the population of local birds is still good. Fishing activity will threaten the habitat of birds as many birds are killed as they get entangled in fishing nets.”
When pointed out that PMC plans to allow ‘controlled’ fishing, he said that there cannot be round-the-clock monitoring of fishing activity and there cannot be any justification to allow fishing in the lake.