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PCMC HABITATS: AN OVERVIEW

Dipak Sawant & Anil Khaire

Introduction:

Pimpri Chinchwad area flourished after the establishment of Hindustan Antibiotics.


The huge plain lands and availability of enough water created favorable conditions
for industrialization. Many mega industrial projects like TATA, BAJAJ, SKF,
PHILIPS took initiative for making it a major Automobile Hub near Pune. Eventually
it grew as a twin city of Pune and was declared as Municipal Corporation in 1982.
The recent trends consider Environmental quality as equally important parameter
after social status, economic status and overall development. It is necessary to review
the environmental and biological status of city current trend. Following findings are
based on long term observations and contemporary generalized survey of this area.

The main wilderness habitats in Pimpri Chinchwad are Grasslands, Riverine habitats,
Naturalized quarries, Lakes, and Plantation areas. In addition to that agriculture
around the city and Municipal gardens also provide a refuge to urban biological
heritage.

Natural Habitats:

Grasslands:

The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal area was traditionally a grassy plain eventually
developed as a twin city of Pune. The entire northern side of city comes under the
broad category of grasslands. Even today, some areas of Bhosari, Talawade,
Chikhali, Moshi, Charholi, Dighi, etc support quality grasslands. These plains were
dominated by the grasses like Heteropogon, Cenchrus, Cynudon, etc. The herbaceous
diversity has flourished in response to grazing along the old village settlements. It is
worth appreciable. Shrubs like Ziziphus are common. Lantana and Casia spp. have
invaded in these semi savannah grasslands. Tall trees were rarely seen. The tree
vegetation mainly consists of Acacia spp. naturally.

Faunal diversity of this grassland ranges from tiny microscopic insects to Indian
Wolf. It supports the life of variety of insects, reptiles, birds and mammals. Saw
Scaled Viper are exclusively found around the plains of Bhosari and Moshi. More
than 70 species of birds have been recorded from these grasslands. Different types of
field rats, shrews and bandicoots exist in these plains. Large mammals like wolf,
Indian fox, palm civets, do exists in these area; however they could not be seen
during the period under this study. Their existence has been proved through their
droppings and other signs time to time.

Changes in land use pattern for modern development have caused several biological
transformations. Birds like Indian Roller, Indian Courser, Oriental Turtle Dove, and
Yellow Wattled Lapwing are no more found in the area, today. Distribution of
Spotted doves have falling down from city and is present in Charholi only. Many
ground nesting birds now rarely nest in Pimpri Chinchwad area. Further study is
required to know the exact status. Saw Scaled Viper is on the verge of local
extinction. All these grasslands are under threat from surrounding developmental
pressures. They are increasingly being converted into residential and industrial plots.
Quarrying activity at Moshi and unplanned plantation programmes are other major
threats. Without any long term protective measure their existence is doubtful.

River System:

Pimpri Chinchwad city has spread along the river Pawana, which flows through
center of the city. Indrayani and Mula are other two rivers which flow from Northern
and Southern boundary of city respectively.

The river Pawana enters into city at Ravet and meets Mula river near Dapodi. The
river offers some excellent bird habitats in the form of islands near Kalewadi bridge
and Kasarwadi. The island near Kalewadi is a paradise for vivid urban biodiversity. It
supports colonies of Purple Swamphen, Indian Moorhen, Glossy Ibis and Common
Coots. A small colony of fruit bats takes pleasure in its unique floral diversity. Rocky
outcrops near Gurav Pimple are potential habitats for River Terns and other waders.
Small Blue Kingfishers and Pied Kingfishers are seen in comparatively clean water
with sufficient transparency. The birds could not be seen in river stretch after
Chinchwad indicating the gradual pollution.

During the journey, Pawana river collects lots of domestic sewage, including some
solid waste. High organic content has reflected through alarming growth of aquatic
weeds like water hyacinth and Pistia to the extent of eutrophication. The
eutrophication is more prevalent in lower riches of river; mainly after Kasarwadi. The
avian diversity also suggests the similar consequences. Presence of birds like Black
Winged Stilt and Ruddy Shield Duck also indicate organic pollution in water.
Indicator of Fresh Water; Pheasant Tailed Jacana has not been recorded during the
study at any site. It is also not evident in recent checklists of bird watchers from the
region. The other life forms were hardly seen during the study. Lack of riparian
vegetation is one of the reasons for lower biological diversity. Fishing activity was
rarely conducted exclusively near Ravet indicating short of fish diversity through
city. Use of river water for domestic purpose was hardly seen after Ravet which is an
indicating noticeable change in water quality.

River Mula is similar in condition. Indrayani River is comparatively cleaner and


richer in biodiversity. Presence of riparian vegetation and undeveloped fringe areas is
the cause at the end. There are more number of insects, birds, amphibians and all
other life forms. Some significant birds found around Indrayani river are Grey Heron,
Night Heron, White Breasted Waterhen and rarely Painted Storks. Plenty of frogs and
other mollusks attract a range of predators. Luxuriant growth of Typha islands and
bushy vegetation on the river bank provide shelter to the variety of species. Many fish
nets were seen through out the river coarse indicated the abundance of fish life in
Indrayani river. Invasion by Ipomea carnea is a major visible threat. Effects of
industrial effluents are seen at several places.

Release of untreated sewage and industrial effluent into river, loss of riparian
vegetation, almost stagnant water flows, land filling and waste dumping in river basin
are the main culprits for the loss of riverine life. Complete treatment on domestic &
industrial sewage and some eco-restorative measures will definitely prosper the river
life again.

Lakes and Quarries:

Pimpri-Chinchwad city has several lakes and water bodies. Ganesh Talav and TATA
Lake (Sumant Vihar) were surveyed under this study. Both the lakes are rich in avian
diversity. Tata Lake being a private property is well maintained and free from any
encroachment. A breeding colony of Painted Stork is the perfect indication of its safe
natural environment. It is the paradise for migratory birds. The dead snags within the
water body are perfect bird perches; while the surrounding plantation has
comparatively less ecological value. Very few birds are seen in Tata Lake
plantations.

Ganesh Talav was in the process of beautification during the study period and was
drained out and being de-silted. Besides all the disturbances, large number of bird
congregation was seen at the site. It indicated the abundance of food supply on the
lake surface. Due to the absence of water during this survey, aquatic flora and fauna
could not be studied. De-siltation and other habitat alterations may lose this important
bird habitat from region. Ecological considerations must be implemented in such
biodiversity hotspots.

Pimpri Chinchwad area has several historic quarries which date back to Peshwa era.
Through the process of natural succession, all the historic quarries were well restored.
All quarries accumulate water during the monsoon wherein good amount of fishes
breed and attract many birds. These quarries represent some unique flora and fauna of
this region. Soft Shelled Turtles are found only in certain quarries in the area. Typha
islands within the quarry provide breeding ground for several amphibians. Many rare
Crustaceans have been recorded from these quarries.

Development of picnic spots, boating activities and overall commercialization on


these quarries will definitely lose its natural values and threaten the biodiversity.
Reclamation of quarries, recreational activities and waste dumping for land filling are
major threats to these important natural habitats.

Artificial Habitats:

Gardens:

Pimpri Chinchwad is also renowned as Garden City. More than 126 gardens and
recreational parks contribute to major portion of cities greenery. All the gardens
mainly contain the aesthetic plants which often have less or no ecological value.
However the fact can not be ignored that the regular recreational gardens have less
chances of thriving native biodiversity caused by disturbances from visitors.

An innovative approach of gardening with native flora in addition to regular garden


plants may solve some of the problems. Native plants attract several small creatures
while aesthetic garden plants are often sturdy. Concept of Butterfly garden,
Biodiversity Park or Nature Trail may overcome several other similar issues. A strip
of buffer land along both sides of river and all the hill slopes may be earmarked as
Biodiversity Park.

Plantations:

Several plantation programmes have been promoted to increase the green cover of the
city. Durgadevi Hill and Talawade Plantation area were surveyed during this study.
At present both the areas have mostly plantations of exotic plants like Subabhul and
Glericedia. Protection rendered to these plots accelerates the natural succession in
ground flora. Ecological value of plantations may not be significant but ground flora
plays significant role in prospering biodiversity.

Durgadevi hill is significantly rich in biodiversity. The verdict for plantation of native
plant species in future will be a perfect step ahead. However, wider ecological
perspective in plant selection can offer several other advantages. The hill slopes have
very less soil that makes it less capable for protecting water. The artificial ponds are
the key resources in local ecology of hill.

Mixed plantation of native plants, soil and water conservation measures along the
slopes and adequate protection can considerably improve the ecological significance
of plantation.

Agricultural Lands:

Most of the agricultural lands have already been lost to developmental pressures.
Newly added villages of fringe area have sustained a few patches of agriculture. All
the agricultural lands are well functioning as apparent from presence of good number
of birds.

Traditional crops include Jowar, Groundnut, Bajara and green leafy vegetables.
Sugarcane is often seen along the Indrayani river. Some seasonal crops like cow pea
and other cereals are taken in post monsoon. Eastern parts of city mainly Charholi is
famous for quality vegetable and traditional floriculture. Despite traditional farming
culture, valuable agricultural land patches are being sold for higher prices to
Promoters & Builders.
The Land and natural resources are limited. All natural systems are balanced for the
sustainability. But any uncontrolled growth is always fatal. An effort to reduce
ecological footprint of urban civilization can be reduced through waste segregation,
vormicompost, reuse and recycle.

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