Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see...
-Blowing in the wind (Bob Dylan)
A vacant plot in front of the Sector 10 Metro station in Dwarka has been home to scores of bayas, a weaver bird found across the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, for the past seven years. Their numbers, however, have been going down every year, thanks to the apathy of the authorities.
The plot is owned by Delhi Development Authority (DDA). A while back, the plot's boundary wall was broken and ever since, construction debris is being dumped in the baya's habitat. DDA, however, has not paid any heed to the issue.
In 2012, DDA had raised concerns about protecting the baya at a meeting. Ironically, DDA has not taken any step to protect the baya weaving their nests in their very own plot.
And this is how we reward the baya's resilience...
Environmental activists and birdwatchers from the sub-city are concerned about the baya's habitat. They say the open dumping of debris in the plot must be prohibited.
Ramesh Mumukshu, an environmental activist from Dwarka, said, “These birds return to the same place every year to breed and nest. We must admire their resilience and support them. Sooner or later, the plot will be developed into something else. It is just a matter of time. We should ensure that the baya has a peaceful retreat at least until then."
Famed wildlife biologist Faiyaz Khudsar said, “The presence of grasses such as Panicum, Setaria and Cenchrus in abundance must be a prime factor that encourages the birds to nest in these areas, as they use them to build their nests. It is encouraging to see the birds choose a location in the heart of the city. Although the baya is far from endangered, it is usually our apathy towards wildlife that drives species to vanish altogether. The authorities should not allow dumping of construction and demolition waste near the bird's habitat.”
Kamaljeet Sehrawat, the mayor of South Delhi Municipal Corporation and a resident of Dwarka, said she would discuss the issue with DDA and try to stop the dumping of waste in the plot.
The phenomena in Dwarka
This City Spidey reporter has been observing the nesting and breeding of the flocks of bayas in the vacant plot since 2010. Over the years, the number of trees in the area has decreased. While earlier there used to be about six full-grown babool trees, there are even fewer, and smaller, now. As a result, the number of the baya's ingeniously crafted nests has halved from about 200 in 2010.
The main cause is the gradual encroachment in the area. Many of the trees have been chopped off to make way for parking, night shelters and shelters for labours. Fortunately, the wild plants have stood the test of time (and abuse) and have continued to grow year after year, providing a place for the baya weavers to weave their nests.
Humans, as with anywhere else in the world, have tried to own and use every piece of land possible. But the bayas have refused to back down, thumbing their noses at our attempts at taking their home away from them. But we must help them, if we want our future generations to witness a natural wonder so up close and personal.