Bihar villagers want to swap votes for bats
Sarsai village in Vaishali district, barely 3 km northwest of Patna, will soon be developed as a sanctuary for endangered bats.Updated: Mar 04, 2009, 23:43 IST
Sarsai village in Vaishali district, barely 3 km northwest of Patna, will soon be developed as a sanctuary for endangered bats.
As curious visitors flock to the village to watch the huge population of bats, villagers discovered the tourism potential and managed to clinch the deal at a recent meeting with forest department officials.
"We are interested in the idea. It's just great," said Gopal Prasad Mishra, range officer, Hajipur. He observed that about 50,000 bats had been occupying the trees around a pond, Sarsai Sarovar, in the village.
Since the villagers were protective about the bats, the department had drawn up plans to develop the area as a proper sanctuary, he said, adding that a detailed project report had already been sent to the chief wildlife warden.
Mishra said the Sarovar was actually excavated between 1402 and 1405 by Raja Shiv Singh of Tirhut - roughly the Indo-Gangetic plains in Bihar. Bats have been dwelling in the area since then, says Bindeshwar Sharma 'Himanshu', who will head the village committee for developing the sanctuary.
The bat sanctuary will be the second such after the one in Thailand. The creatures have long been worshipped in Sarsai and nobody harms them for fear of calamity. In fact, the villagers have decided to vote only for the party, which will ensure the sanctuary project. The village has 10,000 votes.
The chief of Rampur Ratnekar panchayat, Awadhesh Kumar Sharma, has a model in mind. He said, "There will be four ringed layers of concrete seating arrangements around the pool and a lodge for visitors and researchers. Internet facilities will also be thrown in."
To protect the bats, the villagers have agreed on shramdaan (voluntary labour) to plant more trees, which bats like to occupy and which keep them cool in the daytime, according to Kamlesh Kumar, convenor of Sarsai Prachin-Prakritik Dharohar Paryatan Sansthan, the organisation formed to develop the tourism centre.