Agra: The Mathura oil refinery has been cautioned against polluting the Keitham Lake (Soor Sarovar), which supports a bird sanctuary, on the Delhi-Agra national highway, according to an official.

Deputy wild life conservator Sujoy Bannerjee told on Friday: "We have asked them not to release chemical wastes in the lake.  "The bird sanctuary cannot be allowed to be contaminated."

"The Mathura refinery under an arrangement with the state irrigation department lifts fresh water from the Soor Sarovar for refining operations and in the process discharges waste and effluents into the lake," environment-activist Sharad Gupta told.

The lake, named after Soordas, the blind bard of Braj Bhasha, was originally designed by the British in 1922 to serve as a reservoir for water supply during lean months to Agra city.

It was turned into a bird sanctuary in March 1991. Due to water shortage at the Keladeo bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, a large number of migratory birds moved over to Keitham Lake which had enough water.

Member of Supreme Court monitoring committee and petitioner in the Allahabad High Court, D.K. Joshi told: "The refinery should be asked to make their own arrangements for water from the Gokul Barrage in Mathura and should vacate 23 acres of land of the sanctuary.

"In September 1981, an agreement was signed between the Uttar Pradesh's Irrigation department and the Mathura Refinery for supply of water at Re 1 for 10,000 litres.

The agreement expired after 25 years in 2006-07 (financial year).  "The Gokul Barrage, just 7 km from refinery, was opened in 2001. But the refinery continues to lift Agra's share of water from Keitham Lake, that is 30 km away," said Joshi.

"Why is the Agra Lake is serving the interests of Mathura?" asked Joshi. Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society said:"The citizens of Agra have the first right on the lake as was the objective of constructing this reservoir.”

Mugdha Singh, environment-researcher told: "The pentagonal lake is formed in a catchment area of 7.13 km with artificial islands, ideal for nesting of migratory birds.”The lake attracts more than 250 species of migratory and resident birds and gets covered by profuse growth of macrophytic vegetation of water hyacinth during summers," she added.


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