Seven years on, Delhi’s state bird sparrow remains a footnote
Rampant urbanisation, lack of nesting and feeding spaces, use of pesticides and even radiation from mobile towers are behind the dwindling numbers of this common bird species in metropolitan cities such as Delhi.delhi Updated: Mar 20, 2017 23:54 IST
Seven years ago, on March 20, 2010, Delhi celebrated the first Sparrow Day with much pomp. The government even declared it the state bird in August 2012.
But now it just remains a footnote on the calendar as no proper step has been taken by the government, apart from awareness building advertisements, to conserve these “vanishing birds”.
Rampant urbanisation, lack of nesting and feeding spaces, use of pesticides and even radiation from mobile towers are behind the dwindling numbers of this common bird species in metropolitan cities such as Delhi.
A senior Delhi government official said nothing much has happened to date in terms of sparrow conservation. “Though the sparrow was declared a state bird in 2012, no concrete steps have been taken,” he said.
Forest department officials say it is the Delhi Parks and Gardens Society’s responsibility to spread the message of conservation and allocate funds. Officials of the society claim it is the forest department’s job. The sparrow, it seems, is bearing the brunt of this jurisdictional tug of war.
The apathy has reached such levels that even schools and colleges did not have any customary function to commemorate World Sparrow Day on Monday. The schools said they were busy with examinations. Similar was the situation in the universities.
“We are busy with examination and results, so couldn’t do anything to celebrate the day,” said Ameeta Mulla Wattal, principal Springdales School, Pusa Road.
Last year, students of development communication at Jamia Millia Islamia had organised a march and awareness drive on World Sparrow Day.
Former chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who had started the conservation initiative along with Mohammad Dilawar, founder of Nature Forever Society and a bird activist, said the campaign needed to be sustained for an impact.
“After declaring sparrow as the state bird, we started the campaign. Even in my house, where I was staying as CM, we got these little wooden house-shaped nests with water and feed. In some areas, sparrows flourished, some they didn’t,” Dikshit told HT.
Dikshit’s government term ended in December 2013, followed by a stormy first stint of the AAP government, one year of President’s rule and now it’s been over two years since the Kejriwal government took over again.
“Nothing has been done after that. I feel very sad about it. We kept on trying, to teach schoolchildren, to sensitise adults. Unfortunately no one has taken interest now. The system which we started, wasn’t followed up,” she said.
Activist Mohammad Dilawar said they were in the process of drafting detail plans and guidelines, which included creation of more habitats by involving resident welfare associations.
“We are hopeful that the state government will help us. We haven’t approached them yet but will very soon. We will try and connect with them in April,” Dilawar said.