Sand mafia scripting swan song for Patiala Ki Rao choe

  • Vishav Bharti, Hindustan Times, Chappar Chiri (SAS Nagar)
  • Updated: Apr 03, 2015 13:15 IST

Amid deafening sound of massive diggers and hydraulic trailers, on Wednesday morning, a Red-naped ibis looks a bit restless on the banks of Patiala Ki Rao. Though it is a season to sing new songs, to make companions, for it is season of love, it flies from one place to the other. Panic is palpable; he is losing to human lust.

The lust of sand mafia has not even spared natural habitat of migratory birds, Patiala Ki Rao, a seasonal rivulet just next to Fateh Burj (Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Memorial) at Chappar Chiri — where the Badal government holds almost every major function of the government. The mining operations with massive diggers have been in the full swing here for the past one week.

Beautiful lush green beds of land have already been turned into dusty patches with huge pits here and there.

The choe houses a large number of species of local and migratory birds including red-wattled lapwings, wood sandpipers, kingfishers, pipits, painted storks and the red-naped ibis, including this one. Several species, including the ibis, are in the mid of breeding season these days.

The choe originates from Shivalik hills. There are forests and green belts on the banks of the rivulet. A couple of years back, Punjab and Haryana high court stayed all kind of construction activities on the seasonal rivulet.

Besides, as per a Punjab government notification dating March 8, 2013, every mining permit holder should ensure that “no natural watercourse and /or water resources are obstructed due to any mining operation.”

When the issue was brought to the notice of SAS Nagar deputy commissioner Tejinder Pal Singh Sidhu on Wednesday evening, he said, “No one can touch the land which falls on the flow of natural water. I will immediately ask the area SDM to check.”

But the business was as usual on Thursday morning as well as in the evening. When contacted again, he repeated what he had said on Wednesday: “I will depute the SDM”. But when asked what action had been taken in the past 24 hours, he refused to talk further and said, “I can’t hear you.”

The clichéd official reply of the deputy commissioner leaves one with question: Will one be able to see all those beautiful birds next winter?

The answer comes as big no from Chandigarh-based wildlife expert Vikram Jit Singh. “Chappar Chiri is a beautiful place when it comes to bushes and open country and wasteland side birds. Such activities often destroy the habitats of seasonal and migratory birds. In the coming monsoon, they will affect the water table also,” says he.

Warning bells are ringing. Only if somebody heard them.

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