Monsoon failure has hit farmers as well as winged visitors

Koonthankulam, a famous birds’ sanctuary in the district, which would have attracted a few lakhs of winged visitors during this time every year and submerged in the peculiar ‘clak’ sound from the long beaks of the birds, has fallen silent as two water bodies that provided everything to the birds are bone dry now.

 Whenever Koonthankulam and Kaadankulam were brimming with water, due to the southwest and northeast monsoons or the water released from the Manimuthar Dam, around 40 varieties of birds including painted stork, flamingo, bar-headed goose, pelican, spoonbill, ibis, snake bird, heron, tern, duck, egret, garganey and pintail used to be found at Koonthankulam.

Naturally, the birds nesting atop acacia trees grown inside the tanks and on trees in village used to attract hundreds of visitors every day.

The Department of Forest created nine sand mounds as it would facilitate the birds to catch the fishes and other insects floating on the water.

For the second consecutive year, the monsoon failure has affected farmers as well as birds.

“To avoid this situation and save the sanctuary, the government should consider connecting the Koonthankulam and Kaadankulam, the two major water bodies providing food and shelter to the birds, with the 73-km-long flood carrier channel being dug to take the surplus water of the Tamirabharani, Karunaeniyar and Nambiyar to dry areas of Nanguneri, Thisaiyanvilai, Radhapuram and Saattaankulam on an outlay of Rs.369 crore. If this suggestion is translated into action, one can see birds here throughout the year,” says K. Subramanian of Koonthankulam.

 Since the two water bodies are located just six km away from the flood carrier channel under excavation, the government may consider the farmer’s suggestion.

 However, the Public Works Department, which is executing the flood carrier channel project, says that it was ready to connect Koonthankulam and Kaadankulam if the government wanted it to do so.

“We’re idle for the past several months as the Centre, which has to release funds for the flood carrier channel project, has stopped the assistance completely leaving the third and fourth phase of the scheme in limbo,” said a PWD engineer connected to the scheme.