lay observer, it would seem that the diversity or abundance of local animals is increasing. However, what has happened is that introduced biodiversity from another area has begun to replace the unique, indigenous biodiversity of the area. The now colonisers are not in any way unique, as they are found in many other areas. Again, this process can be seen in the case of the IGNP ( Prakash 1992).
In the SSP command, there is justifiable fear that species of plants and animals unique to the arid areas will be adversely affected by the processes mentioned above. Especially susceptible will be the Rann of Kutch. This unique ecosystem is a complex and delicate mix of arid lands, tidal wave inundation from the Gulf of Kutch, and freshwater flooding from inland. Such a part-desert, part-wetland ecosystem is not found elsewhere in the world. The delicate balance of this ecosystem is bound to be disturbed by the introduction of `copious amounts of freshwater' - it will push out the xeric flora-fauna which are uniquely adapted to the Rann, and replace them with generalist species. Particularly threatened could be mammals, like the Wild ass and birds like the Large desert lark (Alaemon alaudipes) and the Desert or Creamcoloured courser (Cursorius cursor).
The Wild ass is one of the world's rarest mammals, this subspecies being found only in the Rann. This and other animal species will also be threatened by other aspects of the project. The project authorities themselves recognise, that "there may be certain adverse impacts because of the canal network criss-crossing the area with impacts on unrestricted movements of wild ass for browsing etc., as also impacts on arid zone fauna." ( TOR Wild Ass 1992). This has been confirmed by the findings of a study carried out by the Wildlife Institute, Dehradun, completed in June, 1994. They have recommended that work on two branch canals be immediately stopped due to almost certain negative impacts on the wild ass. Other possible impacts include the tremendous disturbance which canal construction will cause (including the movement and settlement of large numbers of labourers, and the movement of vehicles and equipment), and, perhaps most seriously, the conversion of browsing and grazing lands into irrigated agricultural fields. These impacts have also been felt in the IGNP area, with disastrous effects on and zone wildlife.
As regards the Nal Sarovar Sanctuary near Ahmedabad, it is important to note that this consists of a huge, shallow and seasonal lake. The rise and fall of water levels and the periodic drying and inundation of sections, are critical aspects of such a lake, and integral to the survival of its flora and fauna. Currently, the lake rarely exceeds 3 metres in depth, but the SSP authorities plan to construct an 8 metres high embankment and utilize the lake as a storage reservoir. Almost all of the large numbers of migratory birds currently found at the lake are shallow waders, not deep diving birds. An 8 metres deep lake will make the environment complete unsuitable for them, and drastically change the lake ecosystem.
Even worse, project authorities are considering a plan to have multiple uses of the lake, possibly by "compartmentalising" it into a part-conservation part-usage waterbody (TOR Nal Sarovar 1992). The disturbance this would cause would be considerable. Finally, as identified by the project authorities themselves, agricultural development in the command area