A big chunk of Kabar lake, one of the protected bird sanctuaries of the state in Begusarai, may be used for community activities if a proposal of the wetland international, a Delhi based group is approved by the state. The organisation, which has been engaged in preparing management action plan for wetlands, has suggested that people be allowed to use certain areas, which remain dry and arid for most part of the year.
These suggestions and recommendations were made during a recent presentation attended by officials of the forest, water resources and fisheries departments.
Kabar, which is spread over 6,786 hectare in Begusarai, is the biggest wetland of the state and among South Asia’s largest freshwater lakes. Identified by the ministry of forest and environment as a wetland of national importance, Kabar was once known to host 106 species of resident birds and 59 species of migratory birds, besides 41 species of fish.
“But things have radically changed and like many other wetlands in the country, Kabar gets inundated only during monsoon. But even in that season, surveys found hardly 4,000 to 4,500 hectares of its total land area under water. The rest remains dry throughout the year,” said Dr Ritesh Kumar of Wetlands International.
He said the present situation is due to several reasons, one being the massive flow of silt into the area and channels, which chokes water outlets. “There is the need to plan things for this wetland with a new perspective. While the perenially inundated area should be made the core area to preserve biodiversity, the rest can be utilized for community work like fishing and farming,” Kumar said.
An official of the forest department said the proposal would be discussed in the state wildlife board meeting to be held in the next few weeks.
Arvind Mishra of State Bird Conservation Network, said Kabar suffered from encroachments for agriculture purposes and excessive removal of biomass by the human population. “These problems should be sorted out to maintain the wetland."
Samir Sinha of Wildlife Trust of India said the government should try to restore the health of the wetland, instead of downsizing its area.