The Punjab forest and wildlife preservation department is locked in a tense tussle with a group from Bhucho Kalan, Bathinda, over an encroachment at the Harike wildlife sanctuary, Ferozepur. The department has contended that the group led by Baba Sukhdev Singh has entered the sanctuary from the nozzle-area gate and commenced construction of a gurdwara, whose boundary wall, bathroom and a room have already been constructed. Although department officials have complained to the top district authorities and reported the matter to the department headquarters at SAS Nagar, the encroachment remains. The area occupied by the group is a habitat of resident birds and migrating bush birds and is protected by various wildlife preservation statutes and directions of higher courts.
Neeraj Gupta, former DFO (wildlife) at Harike, said: "The land under encroachment falls in the revenue records of Talwandi Nipla village and stands formally notified in favour of the department, following the Ferozepur deputy commissioner's notification of 1999, declaring that no person had rights over it. Baba Sukhdev Singh's group has got an illegal registry done of five kanals and 10 marlas in 2008 from the naib tehsildar, Makhu. We have asked the DC to cancel the illegal registry.''
On the other hand, Baba Harjit Singh, who is engaged in the gurdwara's construction, admitted that "no demarcation of the land has been done". He claimed that since the naib tehsildar had undertaken the registry in their favour, they were well within their rights to construct the gurdwara. "The department sent us a notice; our lawyer has replied. The department has not replied to that,'' he added.
Youths' trail of Muck
The cake dumped at Sukhna Lake. Photo: Vikram Jit Singh
Particularly galling were the remnants of a Black Forest cake abandoned in its cardboard box by a group of "happy birthday" youngsters at the bird walk near the regulatory-end. They had their fill of the cake, did a jig, congratulated the birthday girl, casually dumped a portion of the cake and walked off giggling and laughing raucously. They thumped each other's backs as if they had just completed a great feat.
The notice put by a foreign tourist at Manali.Photo: Harshrekha Kapoor
This litter bothers those who want to enjoy clean surroundings and enjoy nature by leaving a minimal human footprint. A particularly irked foreign tourist to Manali, where a section of the tourists routinely leave behind a non-degradable mess, was provoked enough to put up an acerbic notice in a green belt violated by hordes of Punjabi tourists. The words leave nothing to the imagination.
Picnic in the rains
Photo: Karam Jeet Singh
Photographer Karam Jeet Singh did well to click one of the chicks that was tailing the parent bird persistently for food. An empty plastic bottle can be seen between the parent and the chick.
I happened to notice this family a few days earlier foraging on the drain's banks. A mongrel was drinking water a few yards away. It was not that the mongrel was benevolent but was such a diseased and weak fellow that the waterhens ignored its presence with such contempt that it brought a wry grin to my face. The nibbling water-hens carried an air of poise, fully confident the mongrel was too incapacitated to disrupt the family picnic.
E-mail of the writer: Vjswild1@gmail.com