Rajasthan has drawn up an ambitious plan to bring migratory birds back to the famous Bharatpur sanctuary which has witnessed a crisis this winter due to an acute water shortage.
The Keoladeo Ghana National Park, as it is called, has suffered severely due to scanty rainfall and shortage of water.
"We have drawn out a Rs 200 million plan to bring water to the Ghana sanctuary from the nearby Goverdhan drain," Sunayan Sharma, director of the Keoladeo National Park, said in Jaipur.
"The project will be implemented soon after we get a go-ahead from the state government," Sharma said. Officials in the forest department said the floodwaters that are usually diverted to the Yamuna river will now be utilised for the sanctuary.
Officials said during monsoon, water would be transported to Ghana from the Goverdhan drain, about 20 km from Bharatpur, by constructing a lift canal as well as laying pipelines.
Owing to water scarcity migratory birds have not come this year and it wears a deserted look. Several birds that come here in their breeding season have also turned to other places.
Large parts of the water bodies in the sanctuary have dried up. The area had been receiving scanty rainfall for the last couple of years but this year the situation is at its worst. The number of birds has decreased to a great extent.
Several birds that initially landed here at the onset of monsoon flew back following scanty rainfall.
Keoladeo with its lakes and wetlands is spread over an area of 28.73 sq km. It was artificially created by the Maharaja of Bharatpur in the 19th century. By building small dykes and dams and diverting water from an irrigation canal, he converted the low-lying area into a fine wild fowl shooting preserve. In a few years, the new wetland surrounded by marginal forests was able to support thousands of water birds.
The park used to be a delight for bird watchers. Over 300 species of birds including open bills, spoon bills, egrets, cormorants, white ibises, harriers, fishing eagles, kingfishers and local and Siberian cranes are found in this sanctuary.
However, with water becoming a scarce commodity here, the chances of one seeing these birds have become negligible.