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WILDBUZZ: Tussle over Harike

The Punjab forest and wildlife preservation department is locked in a tense tussle with a group from Bhucho Kalan, Bathinda, over an encroachment at the Harike wildlife sanctuary, Ferozepur.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 01, 2015 22:59 IST
Vikram Jit Singh
Vikram Jit Singh
Hindustan Times
Wildbuzz,Vikramjit Singh,harike Sanctuary
The gurdwara encroachment in the Harike sanctuary. Photo: Punjab Forests and Wildlife Department

The Punjab forest and wildlife preservation department is locked in a tense tussle with a group from Bhucho Kalan, Bathinda, over an encroachment at the Harike wildlife sanctuary, Ferozepur. The department has contended that the group led by Baba Sukhdev Singh has entered the sanctuary from the nozzle-area gate and commenced construction of a gurdwara, whose boundary wall, bathroom and a room have already been constructed. Although department officials have complained to the top district authorities and reported the matter to the department headquarters at SAS Nagar, the encroachment remains. The area occupied by the group is a habitat of resident birds and migrating bush birds and is protected by various wildlife preservation statutes and directions of higher courts.

Neeraj Gupta, former DFO (wildlife) at Harike, said: "The land under encroachment falls in the revenue records of Talwandi Nipla village and stands formally notified in favour of the department, following the Ferozepur deputy commissioner's notification of 1999, declaring that no person had rights over it. Baba Sukhdev Singh's group has got an illegal registry done of five kanals and 10 marlas in 2008 from the naib tehsildar, Makhu. We have asked the DC to cancel the illegal registry.''

On the other hand, Baba Harjit Singh, who is engaged in the gurdwara's construction, admitted that "no demarcation of the land has been done". He claimed that since the naib tehsildar had undertaken the registry in their favour, they were well within their rights to construct the gurdwara. "The department sent us a notice; our lawyer has replied. The department has not replied to that,'' he added.

Youths' trail of Muck

Will the 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' campaign ever deliver fruitful results if educated youths care not a fig for the mess their romantic antics and entertainment leaves in its wake. At Sukhna Lake, youths descending in droves and relishing packaged foods is a common sight. Most do not care to dispose of the remnants, though dustbins are located along the walkway. The result is that not only are sanitation workers perpetually engaged in netting litter from every nook and cranny, but stray dogs have a field day rummaging through the leftover food. cake dumped at Sukhna Lake. Photo: Vikram Jit Singh

Particularly galling were the remnants of a Black Forest cake abandoned in its cardboard box by a group of "happy birthday" youngsters at the bird walk near the regulatory-end. They had their fill of the cake, did a jig, congratulated the birthday girl, casually dumped a portion of the cake and walked off giggling and laughing raucously. They thumped each other's backs as if they had just completed a great feat.

The notice put by a foreign tourist at Manali.Photo: Harshrekha Kapoor

This litter bothers those who want to enjoy clean surroundings and enjoy nature by leaving a minimal human footprint. A particularly irked foreign tourist to Manali, where a section of the tourists routinely leave behind a non-degradable mess, was provoked enough to put up an acerbic notice in a green belt violated by hordes of Punjabi tourists. The words leave nothing to the imagination.

Picnic in the rains

The monsoon drain that feeds Sukhna Lake from the Saketri-Kaimbwala axis is currently home to an endearing family of White-breasted waterhens and five chicks. Monsoons imply an abundance of food for the young. Commonly known as 'jal murgi', this sure-footed bird is found just about everywhere. This family dwells just a stone's throw from the Nature Interpretation Centre at the regulatory-end and under an overhang of branches touching the water. The menace to this family is the litter and religious offerings people dump here or is swept in by the surging inflow. Fish poachers with hooks and nets disturb the family.

Photo: Karam Jeet Singh

Photographer Karam Jeet Singh did well to click one of the chicks that was tailing the parent bird persistently for food. An empty plastic bottle can be seen between the parent and the chick.

I happened to notice this family a few days earlier foraging on the drain's banks. A mongrel was drinking water a few yards away. It was not that the mongrel was benevolent but was such a diseased and weak fellow that the waterhens ignored its presence with such contempt that it brought a wry grin to my face. The nibbling water-hens carried an air of poise, fully confident the mongrel was too incapacitated to disrupt the family picnic.

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First Published: Aug 01, 2015 22:48 IST