It pays to be a pigeon in two Rajasthan villages. For the birds are the proud owners of hundreds of acres of land there and even have fixed deposits worth Rs 2 million (Rs 20 lakhs)!
Asop and Nadsar villages in Jodhpur district are unique examples of love for these winged visitors. As per government records, the pigeons there own about 290 acres of land worth millions of rupees.
These lands were donated to the birds by people who migrated out of these villages. Whatever is earned as rent from these lands goes into the accounts of a Kabootar Sewa Samiti (pigeon welfare committee) conducted by a council of villagers. The committee acts as a custodian for these birds.
During every crop season, the samiti invites tenders to rent out the land and gives it to the highest bidder. The amount received as a bid is then deposited in the bank account.
"This is nothing new for us. We have been doing this for centuries now with the singular purpose of helping and serving these birds. Every villager helps us in this mission," says Indra Devi Khadaw, the sarpanch of Asop.
"The samiti has fixed deposits of Rs 2.2 million with the UCO Bank at Asop," Dungarmal Kasat, head of the Kabootar Sewa Samiti, told IANS.
He said the pigeons also have three shops in their name and the rent from these also gets deposited in their bank accounts.
"We garner around Rs 100,000-150,000 per year and a similar amount is incurred on feeding the pigeons millet, barley and other things on a yearly basis," Kasat said.
The villagers have constructed more than 15 platforms with drinking water facilities for the pigeons and thousands can be seen fluttering there in the morning and evening, also feasting on the feed that the villagers provide.
About 200 kg of grain is provided to these birds daily by a committed team of volunteers.
"We are only observing a duty that we inherited from our forefathers."