Hyderabad, Oct 15 (IANS) The city of the Charminar became the first in India to have a City Biodiversity Index. The index is meant to be used as a self-assessment and monitoring tool in matters relating to biodiversity in urban areas.
The historic city has scored 36 of a possible 92 points in the City Biodiversity Index (CBI), also known as the Singapore Index on Cities' Biodiversity.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy Monday released the CBI at 'Cities for Life', a city and sub-national biodiversity summit, organised parallel to the ongoing 11th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD).
The chief minister said Hyderabad's CBI would be submitted for validation soon.
Hyderabad has joined a group of 14 international cities to come out with the CBI and is ranked somewhere in the middle of the cities that already have such an index.
"This conference has provided an opportunity to Hyderabad to assess its biodiversity and take steps to protect whatever it has," Greater Hyderabad mayor Mohammad Majid Hussain told IANS.
He said there was a need to revive biodiversity, especially the native species which the city had lost in the past few decades.
The CBI is a self-assessment tool that encourages cities to monitor and evaluate their progress in conserving and enhancing biodiversity. According to CBD, more than 50 cities around the world are in various stages of testing the CBI.
It comprises 23 indicators in three components: native biodiversity, ecosystem services and governance and management of biodiversity.
Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), which prepared the CBI, gathered the data from various research sources including institutions, animal welfare organisations, bird watching societies, butterfly societies and experts.
"We have taken inputs from them on whatever exists today. This is only a baseline survey. We will put this for discussion and take more inputs which will then be documented. This process will take two years," M.T. Krishna Babu, commissioner, GHMC, told IANS.
He said the GHMC would now approach people aged 80 to 100 years to collect data on what species of animals, plants and varieties of fish were found in the city during their childhood. The data would be documented and the authorities would initiate efforts for the revival of native biodiversity.
Krishna Babu said when the city was selected as the venue for the UN conference on biodiversity, they decided to have the CBI to know 'where we stand' and the process took six months.
"The city has done reasonably well because of our agroclimatic zones and the sunshine throughout year. There are many cities which are below us," he said.
Among the 14 cities, Brussels topped the list with 55 points.
The municipal commissioner said 23 indicators like area earmarked for trees, parks, bird sanctuaries and native species were used to assess the city's biodiversity index.
He admitted that the city scored very low on the lake front. The GHMC, however, is launching a major project to revive 176 lakes in the municipal area over the next three years at a cost of Rs. 500 crore under the National Lake Conservation Programme.
With an area of 650 sq km and 7.75 million population, Hyderabad is the fourth most populous city and the sixth most populous urban agglomeration of India.
With an increase in the area from 170 sq km to 650 sq km after the formation of the GHMC in 2007, the population of the city increased by 87 percent, when compared to census figures of 2001. At present, the city has a population density of about 18,500 individuals per sq km.
Due to urbanisation pressure, the geographical area covered by water bodies declined from 2.5 percent of total area in 1964 to 1.6 percent.