Come December and bird enthusiasts in and around Noida will have a new-look and redeveloped Okhla Bird Sanctuary to visit to including a state-of-the-art interpretation centre, nature club, nature trail, CCTV control centre, digital library and bird guides, along with other basic amenities and facilities. The sanctuary will become more visitor-friendly and will be equipped to serve as a bird education and research spot for bird enthusiasts. The revamp plan includes budgets for cameras, more gates, a library, washrooms and a drinking water facility.
On the occasion of World Forest Day (March 21), the foundation for the redevelopment and upgradation was laid by Union Minister of Science & Technology, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Dr Harsh Vardhan and Union Minister of Culture and Tourism Dr Mahesh Sharma who is also the Member of Parliament of Gautam Budh Nagar. The revamp will boost conservation, education and eco-tourism in the region. Okhla is one of the 467 notable bird sanctuaries in the country and hosts around 300 species of birds, several rare and endangered.
Spread over 512 hectares (400 hectares in UP and 120 hectares in Delhi), the sanctuary is a notified environment-sensitive area. The redevelopment plan includes improving the ecology of the water body, an interpretation centre, a watch tower, re-laid cycle track, CCTV network for security, a souvenir shop, parking facility, electric vehicles and drinking water facility.
The sanctuary had long been crying for attention but with Noida Authority expressing its inability to fund the redevelopment and upgradation exercise, the same could never be taken up. Now, the Union government is supporting the upgradation and redevelopment exercise with the initial estimates for the project at Rs 25 crore.
Okhla Bird Sanctuary has been a haven for avian-lovers who get to spot a variety of bird species from home and overseas including greylag goose, bar-headed goose, common teal, gadwal, Eurasian wigeon, northern shoveler, common coot, northern pintail, tufted duck, common pochar, green bee-eater, spot-billed duck, grey heron, greater coucal, Indian cormorant, black-winged stilt, koel, cattle egret, little egret and many, many more.
A bird photography exhibition was also hosted at the park on this momentous day.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the Okhla Bird Sanctuary will be soon turned into a world-class tourist destination so much so that anyone arriving in India from any part of the world would want to surely come visiting here. Dr Mahesh Sharma informed everyone that it will also be made into an attraction for the film world to shoot movies here and will boast of a yoga and meditation centre as well as a cycle track for visitors.