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Paradise Lost

Keoladeo National Park (KNP), Bharatpur, ALERT!

This world famous bird sanctuary and wetland habitat at Bharatpur in the state of Rajasthan in India has been rapidly disappearing since the completion of Panchana Dam in 2005 above the river Gambhir, which provided flowing water every year to this unique Park during the months of monsoon (July – August).

Despite public outcry and representations by national and international conservation bodies, the fate of KN Park – a Ramsar Convention and UNESCO World Heritage site - hangs in the balance.

KN Park’s 28.72 sq km consist of wetland, grassland and woodland, and support around 370 species of birds, 375 species of flowering and 91 of aquatic plants. It is vital to hundreds of thousands of migratory birds. The park needs 550 million cu ft of flowing water each year, which came from Gambhir river prior to the building of the dam.

Sarus Cranes and the Park in its hey-day

Sarus Cranes in Dry Land

Siberian Cranes at Park
Guides yes, jobs No
Painted Storks in hey-day
Totally Dry
Protest to get water for Park
Protest to get water for Park
Supreme Court's C.E.C. at Park

Read the Report and Have your say as to what should be done to save this “Ecologically Fragile” but species rich habitat.

The status to date is:

• 2005: Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) Report in response to an application made by Mr Harsh Vardhan, Hon. Secretary of the NGO, Tourism & Wildlife Society of India recommended release of water from Panchana Dam to keep KN Park alive.

Report not accepted by the state Government of Rajasthan.

• January 2005 : 8th Indian Bird Fair in Jaipur, organised by the Tourism & Wildlife Society if India, was devoted to raising awareness about the plight of the KN Park.

It certainly raised awareness and gave support to the stakeholders.

• November 2007: the state Government of Rajasthan gave assurance that a 17 km long pipeline to supply flowing water to the KN Park will be completed by June 2008.

This work has not even begun yet. Only the Tenders for the work are in.

• 14 May 2008: the reason given for inaction “no money with the state Government” for the job, which is estimated to cost 650 million rupees (approx. £8million). Conservationists told to seek other sources of funds.

The state Government was persuaded to send a Letter ( 24 May 2008) to the Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court of India to sanction financial assistance for this pipeline from the huge funds lying with this Court in New Delhi.

• July 2008: Supreme Court will commence normal working after the summer break. Informal assurance given by CEC that the above Letter from the state Government of Rajasthan will be put before the Supreme Court when they meet again.

If and when the funds are made available, (perhaps, by September 2008?) the contract for the construction of the pipe-line will be awarded, (perhaps, by end October 2008) and work will be completed, (unpredictable time scale! could be into 2009).

Alert! The nesting season in KN Park begins in October; the tourist season in India begins in November; is KN Park, which is already in a critical state, going to lose another vital year? Will it survive? Let us know your views.

• July – August 2008: the monsoon rains can bring some relief to the park.

The rainfall has sadly been inadequate in the last few years. However, mild showers on 17 – 21 June 2008 have rendered this drought stricken habitat moist and resident species - open-billed storks, spoonbills, herons, cormorants, egrets etc - are already flocking into the Park in the hope of building their nests. The shallow lakes, however, still do not have any water. Let us hope there will be enough rainfall in the next two months to fill them to 3 – 4ft , which would mean loads of good feeding and breeding for birds and wild life and a revival of the KN Park.

Watch this space for the latest News and update on the Keoladeo National Park. |

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