Winged visitors find hosts inhospitable || LIVE IMAGE


Eventually seasonal winged visitors have started hovering over the Ranjit Sagar these days in an appreciable number after a long wait over the years. Too early to arrive at to any conclusive decision whether these migratory birds shall have a winter sojourn this time or shall move on to their earlier abodes or elsewhere which suits them. These winged visitors do not select any place in a huff but invariably take a long time which may spread more than a couple of seasons to change and make a new habitat always after due thought for both the summer as well as for the Winter seasons .Considering every pros and cons into its totality such as safety factor ,its sustainability and other relevant factors before arriving at an any decision . Migration has been a way of life per necessity to escape the harsh extreme freezing conditions prevailing in their summer resorts during winter time, migrate to a warmer climate in comparison where a homely environment suitable to stay and thrive. In the process these birds during migration oscillate with a starling precision between their breeding and wintering grounds, both thousands of Kilometres apart. Right from Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, some countries of Eastern Europe (Russia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Siberia, China, Japan, Philippines. New Zealand and other regions of the world. Birds don’t choose their paths at random. to cover thousands of miles in their annual travels, often travelling the same course year after year with little variation.

When travelling them follow set routes that include suitable habitats where they can stop to rest and re energise themselves along the way. Many different species share broadly similar routes, which have been loosely split into eight major flyways. American Flyway; three flyways that connect North America with Caribbean and Central and South America. African-Eurasian Flyway: three flyways that connect Europe and northern Asia with Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa.  India falls under three Flyways such as the Central Asian Flyway: connects northern Asia with southern Asia and the Middle East. East Asian-Australasian Flyway: connects north-east Asia with south-east Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Winger visitors should be welcomed at the Sagar with open and warm arms which had been a wishful desire brewing in the hearts of Naturalists for a long time and at last emerged as a flickering dawn on the horizon of this Sagar. At the same time irrigate attitude has been observed, entirely ignoring the importance of the victors over here be it be the   Government deliverance apparatus or those who teach this subject and the locals alike. All that these VIP visitors need just bare minimum hospitable environment for the winter sojourn here .Which with very little effort can be developed in plenty. This golden opportunity has to be grabbed with a dire earnestness with open and warm arms. In case allowed to slip away may be lost never to see them come again. Naturists unfortunately have been found gives hardly any thought beyond clicking and comes forward to rise to the occasion to create a hospitable atmosphere which these visitors like. Where the government fails time and again which it has a habit to do, Nature lovers can take their own initiative. It requires mention here that naturalists have been deprived of the entire set of wetlands listed as such in Jammu Division for migratory birds. Never to retrieve again this deprivation has been caused by no one other than the custodian  of these , Wildlife Protection Department of the state. Such as Nanga, Sanghral, Kokreian, Pargwal, just a speck of a big Gharan now a little pond.

The  Chief Wildlife Warden Sh Suresh Gupta IFS, when approached shared that he has instructed to have census carried this season .While as Sh Mohit Gera IFS Principal Chief Conservator Forests JK, assured and directed Divisional Forest Officer Bhasoli to find out measure to be taken to  create a congenial atmosphere for the visitors.

Ranjit Sagar has emerged due to construction of a Dam across River Ravi, at  Bainisangh ,Kathua  to generate electricity.   Spread over 154 Sq kms in three states J&K,Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.  This writer fell in love with it at very first sight during median visit in 2012; a spell bound beauty comes out of blue to rejoice. Seeing it makes one believe what it is being beholden. Lake rests in complete harmony under charming and caring snow clad mountains, lush green meadows of  Sarthal is at an elevation of 7000 ft encircled by Chatter Gala and Baskund Mountain range of Banjal Galla  of Bani Bhasoli Sarthal belt with majestic tall Deodars and rich flora and  fauna .An there lies envious the unmatched enchanting deep blue emerald crystal clear which is  nestled amidst outer Shivaliks in the lesser Himalayas. The water a large and wide water sheet covers represents a breath taking serene beauty all around with a pin drop silence mesmerizing one and all as far as your eyes take you. Gentle breezes make it to  give genteel kisses   all the time to its shores with an assurance to be together till eternity. It is easily approachable from all sides one through Lakhanpur- Kathua other from Punjab side third Dalhousie HP and forth from Baderwah through Chattergale Sarthal which gives it an edge  over other tourist spots . Owing to its rich biodiversity and ecological characters. It has been declared National wetlands while Punjab State says so but Wildlife Protection Department JK denies it. But for all practical purposes it is so, one may admit it or not. It fulfils the very basic criteria, which defines it should be a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally. A number of perturbing thoughts came up, why it is not being developed as a tourist hub the entire belt has huge potential for unmatched vast and varied nature for adventure sports around the clock throughout the year. Provides   opportunities of tremendous avenues of perennial employment among aspiring youth of the backward hilly area It would have helped us to develop the Kathua-Doda-Kishtwar circuit as a tourist .Secondly why it has not been developed as a wetland, which calls for it in bold and clear terms. This writer as the habit is to make assess the area under gaze,  have the spot  analysis in person track it, inquire about from locals before the matter is racked up .As such right bank of the Sagar was traversed on foot right from Bhasholi to the point where Dam  has been raised, ventured deep in the forest  hills. Miles after miles a vast contiguous stretch of land lying vacant acquired by the Dam authorities. Can be developed as per the wetland development guidelines without disturbing its natural status. It was a shocking revelation that the Govt. of India in anticipation of claiming it   to be recognized by Ramsar as a Wetland.  Asked for its  Management development plan during 2002. J&K Wildlife Protection Department was designated a    nodal agency. A series of meetings took place thereafter Action Plan was framed in the month of November 2006 .Became victim of bureaucratic dementia never  made to see the light of dawn. Had there been an inquest many heads definitely would have rolled down.

In the last but  not the least  it  disturbed above all this writer  then  that when  to its   adjoining  south  bank  there  is another Sagar Maharana Partap Singh over river Beas ,where about 130 lakh migratory birds of 418 species  move during winter but  altogether ignore  Ranjit Sagar. Both  of them emerge from the Himalaya, flowing down in the last phase through Shivaliks  have  similar topography .

To solve the riddle this writer went to Pong Dam in 2014, stayed for days and took an overall view from all angles. It was revealing even the last of the last in the department, were quite informative and resourceful, explained the ecology in its entirety with its flora and fauna much better than a university professor. Everyone from the department there has put in their best efforts to create shelters for the migratory birds and other animals. Thereafter   every Chief Wildlife warden  J&K  at the chair  where approached requested rather pleaded in person umpteen times  that before the Project is sanctioned   most probably will not see the light in near future .Which proved under a common sense prophetic . Without wasting time and opportunity, the Department should initiate involving locals and other volunteers to create conducive environs for inducing migratory birds to come in numbers. Also suggested to put in rubber decoy to attract the birds while in migration plant thickets of typha and other high rise grasses to provide cover. Which fell into deaf ears. Let bygone be bygone , grab the initiative, make a fresh start with a sincere zeal. So that history may not add them in the roll of the failures.

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 By- Bushan Parimoo


( the author is jammu based Environmentalist)

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