The forest and tourism departments in Jharkhand have submitted a proposal to the state government to upgrade infrastructure at favourite bird spots in the state and tap their tourism potential to the fullest, officials said.
The proposal includes Jharkhand’s lone Udhwa Bird Sanctuary, which is about 500 km from the state capital, in Saheganj district and Patratu valley, a favourite abode of migratory birds, about 45 kilometres from Ranchi. The Udhwa sanctuary was developed in 1991 when Jharkhand was part of Bihar. It spreads over 5.65 square kilometres of land and known to be a home of different species of migratory birds.
The proposal was given to the state government in the first week of December. The idea of developing the sanctuary into a full-fledged tourism spot came from chief minister Raghubar Das when he visited the place in June this year.
Hazaribagh division forest officer (DFO) MK Singh said the bird sanctuary, which is the only one avian attraction in the state, can help get revenue provided it has what the tourists demand-overnight staying facility, eating joints and a road network to access the spots.
According to the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC)-2014, the sanctuary is home to over 7,200 migratory and domestic birds due to the presence of two backwater lakes--Pataura (1.55 sqkm) and Berhale (4.10 sqkm), which are constantly recharged by the Ganga Farakka Barrage waters. The sanctuary is, however, facing threats from poachers and illegal occupants.
“Out of 5.65 sqkm, 1.25 sqkm was the government land while 4.4 sqkm had been acquired from the villagers. Most of the villagers got their compensation but a few were left due to some controversies. However, we will sort out the issues very soon,” forest official said.
The state tourism department has hired a consultancy firm, KPMG, to draw design to develop the Patratu valley as tourist hub, as the place is bestowed with bounty of nature. Thousands of winged guests take shelter in the Patratu dam area during winter season, tourism director Suchitra Sinha said.
Jharkhand winter not only attracts picnickers but also birders to watch dozens water birds in the dams, ponds, rivers and other water bodies across the state. Over 71,000 birds of 78 species of water birds were sighted in 25 dams and water bodies of the state in the Asian Water bird Census in 2014.
State coordinator of Indian Bird Conservation Network Satya Prakash said that bird tourism was a noble idea and the state was having an immense potential to develop it. “However, the government should ensure that the tourism should not disturb the ambience of birds,” he said.
Researcher MD Dwiwedi said that government should think of organizing bird festivals like the ones held in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat in which tourists could be taken to the dams and given facility for bird watching. Bird lover Prabhat Thakur said that the move would generate employment for the locals too.