Croc Chronicles: VMC refuses to house homeless crocodiles in Ajwa Sarovar

A Vadodara Municipal Corporation notification preventing the release of rescued crocodiles in Ajwa Sarovar has stirred a fresh controversy. Forest officials and crocodile rescue organisations are reportedly unhappy over the move.

The VMC has claimed that the decision has been taken after considering the safety of the workers who are engaged in the maintenance of the reservoir. But at the same time, the municipal body, in its communication with the forest department, has claimed that the carrying capacity of the reservoir has exceeded, as the number of crocodiles in the reservoir is already 340 and it is not possible to include any more. The Forest Department has replied that the crocodiles should be released in Ajwa, as other reservoirs are far away.

As per VMC's August census, Ajwa Dam shelters approximately 340 crocodiles. Rajendra Vasava, Deputy Engineer, Ajwa Dam, said: "The restriction was imposed years ago, but the rescued crocodiles are still released here. We have our people working in the dam for cleaning. While Ajwa crocodiles are quite harmless, the security of the people working here and also of the neighbouring village will be threatened if crocodiles from outside are released."

With over 45 people working in the dam, authorities say that around 10 to 15 people get into water twice a day for cleaning purposes.

The notification has come as a blow for the crocodile rescue organisations and the Forest Department. "We have been informed by VMC that Ajwa reservoir has crossed the carrying capacity of crocodiles and that they have to be released elsewhere," said Nayan Desai, District Conservator of Forest.

The homeless crocodiles will now have to be housed either at Dev Dam, Sukhi Dam or at Karjan.

"The alternatives are far away. We have to release them in other reservoirs. We have written to the commissioner requesting him to allow the release of the crocodiles at Ajwa itself," Desai added.

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