The house is ready, the table all set and the guards have been issued a strict warning to ensure that the guests are not disturbed. The guests, however, don’t seem to be keen on coming back to Lutyens’ Delhi, with Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit leading the welcome team to lure this tiny brown bird back to its now forsaken habitat.
“The nature trail at the Chief Minister’s residence has been spruced up with attractive, brightly coloured sparrow nests, and one of the main large trees at the residence has been covered with blue, pink sparrow boxes. We are trying to attract the birds (sparrows) to come and nest in the area,” says senior scientific officer, Department of Environment, Delhi Government, Dr. B. C. Sabata.
He, however, confesses that the plans have so far not met with success. “We haven’t had much success so far, with other more aggressive birds now nesting/trying to nest in the space. We haven’t spotted any sparrows yet in the area and are hoping that in the course of time we will have some success,” he adds.
While Lutyens’ Delhi is considered one of the greenest parts of the Capital, Dr. Sabata says that the sparrow population has seen the sharpest decline in this region. “The cause could be many,” he states.
Environmentalists have observed that the sparrow numbers have gone down drastically due to increased human population, higher pollution levels and maybe even stronger pesticides killing away their food.
“Besides the project at the Chief Minister’s residence, the Environment Department is in talks with various educational institutions (schools and colleges) to ensure that we are able to reach various corners of the city and are able to involve the youngsters in the exercise to save the bird. There are corners in Delhi where the sparrow population is still healthy, but Lutyens’ Delhi has to work hard to bring these birds back,” said Dr. Sabata.
The Environment Department is also now trying to ensure that the general population is encouraged to install bird houses.
“Continuous efforts have to be made to save this little bird which is now the State bird of Delhi and is known to co-exist with human population. The Delhi Government is also considering incorporating the monitoring of this bird in the school curriculum to ensure awareness about the need for conserving it. Delhiites are also encouraged to register on www.cbmi.in to monitor the sparrows and other common birds in and around their homes, offices and schools,” noted a senior Delhi Government environment official.