Birding Fair devoted to conservation of urban lakes

January 31, 2013 12:00 am | Updated 05:02 am IST - JAIPUR:

The 16th Birding Fair, starting at the scenic Man Sagar lake here this Friday, will be devoted to conservation of urban lakes which are getting extinct at an alarming rate because of lack of priority and inadequate administrative control in most of the cities. Ironically lakes are dying out at a time when the crisis for water is increasing.

The two-day fair, organised by the Tourism and Wildlife Society of India, will be led by Rani Vidya Devi of Jaipur's erstwhile royal family. Columnist Sohail Hashmi will address a session to demonstrate how citizens can be involved in the drive to save lakes.

The World Wide Fund for Nature, Bombay Natural History Society, Bishnoi Tiger Force and the U.S.-based Environmental Education and Conservation Global are extending support to the much-awaited annual event.

Noted environmentalist and TWSI honorary secretary Harsh Vardhan said here on Wednesday that the city-centric lakes in the country receive most of the water from the sewerage released by people through open drains, while the municipal authorities often do not try to treat sewage or re-use the treated water.

The Union Environment and Forest Ministry, which seems to be the agency taking charge of lakes, has funded more than Rs.1,000 crore to over 100 lakes during the past decade. “However, it is not known how many of them were conserved at the parameters set out by the Ministry,” said Mr. Vardhan.

The confusion about the responsibility for lakes also persists because of the Urban Development Ministry not including urban lakes within its ambit while funding the city infrastructure. Mr. Vardhan pointed out that the 400-year-old Man Sagar lake was a “classic example”, as its control had changed hands from the Jaipur Municipal Corporation to the Jaipur Development Authority and the latter was in charge as of now.

“The JDA has not officially visited the lake for an overview of its health, better or worse, since 2005. Its water is with the Irrigation Department, fish with Fisheries Department and road cleanliness with Municipal Corporation, while the sewage treatment process is pitch-forked between JDA and municipal authorities,” pointed out Mr. Vardhan.

Against this scenario, the fair as citizens' initiative assumes the role to draw attention of the authorities towards the historic lake, as the future of the Pink City residents is intertwined with this water body in numerous ways, ranging from better health to enhancing the arrival of tourists.

On a positive note, Man Sagar is teeming with migratory birds these days, about 2,500 of them swimming or diving, like shovellers, pintails, coots, etc. The resident ducks such as spot-bill duck and common moorhen have bred in hundreds, signifying as the indicator of health of the scenic water body.

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