Once the pride of the city, Kanjli wetland here is now becoming a haven for drug addicts.
The site that has historical and religious importance got recognition in 2012 under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and utilisation of wetlands, is in a shambles.
Till 2004, it was a well-maintained picnic spot with a boating point and families used to come here for walks. Nowadays, it is covered with wild vegetation, bushes and plants. Packets of cigarettes, tobacco, injection syringes can also be seen.
When this correspondent visited the site, a group of six youngsters were enjoying a smoking session. “This place is isolated and, hence, good for us. We come to spend time here,” one of them said.
Spread over 183 hectares, the wetland has a religious importance as it is a part of the Kali Bein, a holy rivulet associated with Guru Nanak Dev. The wetland came into existence in 1870 with the construction of head works on the rivulet. It was also famous for Baisakhi fair, but it has now been years since the last fair was organised.
Even the number of migratory birds coming to this place is on a decline year after year. In the winters this year, eight species of migratory birds were spotted here.
Hundreds of migratory birds, including black-crowned night heron, common moorhen, pond heron, purple swamphen, spotted owlet and white-breasted kingfisher, were once regular visitors here.
A few back, common coot, redcrested pochard, rudy shelduck, northern pintail, black-headed gull and northern shoveller were also seen here in the winters. Boats are now lying in stores.
Ram Chandra, a senior citizen, said wetland was a popular picnic spot where people used to come in hordes. “It is now an abandoned spot as nobody takes care of it,” he said.
There is no caretaker and the rivulet is full of algae and hyacinth. Sources said crores of rupees had been spent on the wetland in past years but results are nowhere to be seen.
Deputy commissioner Jaskiran Singh said, “We have prepared two plans and will be sent to the state government for approval to restore the beauty of the wetland.”
Kanjli wetland, Satluj waterbody wetland in Ropar and HariKe-Pattan in Amritsar are the only three recognised wetlands in Punjab.