In a continuing effort to conserve Jaipur’s Man Sagar lake and try to develop it as a Mini Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, and to offer better and diverse biodiversity for peoples’ welfare, the 13th annual Birding Fair will be held on 2nd and 3rd February 2010. It will be devoted to ‘River Restoration’ to enable decision makers realize how important the role of rivers is.
Two British experts will lead the 13th Birding Fair, Mr. Robert Oates, Director of The Thames River Restoration Trust, and Mr. Jim Lyons, Technical Specialist for Fish Science at UK’s The Environment Agency. Mr. Robert has been at the Man Sagar Lake some years ago and this time would like to observe how far Man Sagar has progressed towards restoration. These two gentlemen had a meeting with Mr. Harsh Vardhan, organizer of the Birding Fair, during August 2009 in Britain to discuss how the Jaipur event could be linked with lake and river conservation initiatives overseas.
Mr. Oates heads the Thames River restoration and would like to share his experiences at a lecture in Jaipur on 2nd February to let decision makers realize the importance of lakes for peoples’ welfare. Mr. Jim would like to check the fish species at this lake and suggest how to manage their population so that they may try and improve water quality and their presence can increase the migratory bird population as well. Two bird watchers from Britain will also join them on this visit to the Fair.
The Birding Fair is a citizen’s initiative. It was started in 1997 through cooperation of the British Bird Watching Fair which is held annually in August at Anglian Water in Rutland (Oakham, Leics), Dr. Tim Appleton and Mr. Martin Davies, the two main organizers of the British Fair, are appreciative of the Jaipur event.
The Fair is organized by Tourism & wildlife Society of India (TWSI), a non government and non profit organization in service of nature conservation since 1979. It receives support from WWF – India, Bombay Natural History Society, INTACH, Schools, Teachers, government departments like Tourism, Forest, Jaipur Development Authority, banks etc.
The Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd (JMRPL) is actively associated with the Fair for past some years as it has major stake at this lake owing to its commitment to develop a tourism related multi-faceted facility over vacant land south of the water body. This company, led by Mr. N.R. Kothari, a renowned jeweler of Jaipur, has initiated series of measures to control flow of sewerage of the city in to this lake to improve water quality. Introduction of aquatic vegetation in the lake, removing plastic waste, bypassing the main drain and treatment of polluted storm water are some of the main initiatives being made by this company. It is refreshing to realize that a jeweler is serious about cleaning up this heritage lake.
Outcome of such measures is loud and clear. Water quality of Man Sagar has improved and foul odor, which would not allow a visitor to stand by the main road until a few years ago, has totally disappeared. More betterment is being attempted by JMRPL which has devised constructed-wetlands to enable sewerage water flow through vegetation to get it treated. It is going to be a two-pronged strategy. Firstly to treat sewerage received from the city, through vegetation and release the treated water in to the lake. Secondly, pump out lake water (from another end) and flow it in the same process, treating it again. The entire process does not look as simple as described here: aquatic eco systems are complex to sustain.
Larger number of birds have started arriving again at Man Sagar. More than 180 species of birds have been registered in and around this lake round the year. The number looks high as the forest habitat near by supports many birds. Happy augury is that the migratory birds have found this water body, again, as their winter home: shovellers, and pintails with good number of common teals outnumber other migratory ducks. Waders are numerous at the water edges. Divers are reporting back: pochards, grebes etc. Flamingos are becoming annual guests. Painted Storks and Spoonbills, rare here earlier, have reappeared.
Three earthen islands are being dressed up with appropriate acaia trees, wild grass and shrubs to assume the shape of ‘mound plantations’ as exist at Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur. They are poised to become breeding-centers (heronries) for resident bird species; when it will happen, hopefully soon, the lake will attain its long cherished objective.
The fish management is under way towards appropriate balance to be struck at this lake. Once it is completed, more fish eating birds will make this place as their breeding ground. The number of breeding birds is on rise which is a positive sign.
Despite JMRPL’s major thrust made at this lake (it has so far spent about Rs 15 crores which is about Great Britain Pounds 2 million), lot more needs to be attended to at this scenic water body by the Government of Rajasthan, which has its headquarters located a few kilometers away from the lake. The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (RTDC) is the nodal agency to monitor certain aspects of this lake while Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) is in charge of the land development, which includes areas around the lake. The Department of Forest has charge of the well wooded hills which constitute water shed of the lake. Department of Irrigation appears having minor say in water management in face of JDA’s over all control. Department of Fisheries is yet to step in to remove and reintroduce fish as per a definite plan. The sewerage treatment plant is with another agency. The Department of Tourism (DoT) takes care of promotional aspects of tourism here. The Ministry of Environment & Forest, based in New Delhi, has its indirect say at this water body, having disbursed huge amount to JDA for restoring this water body.
Man Sagar Lake is going to add a new feather in city’s cap through the various initiatives taken by the many organizations involved in its development as a world class site.
The writer of this guestpost, Mr.Harshvardhan, is a famous bird enthusiast based in Jaipur and organizer of the 13th edition of the birding Fair to be held in February in 2010.He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .