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Problems of identification of camera-trapped tigers
Indian Wildlife - challenges in the new millennium
The greying of India
On the road to extinction
A Tribute to Rumbha - the elephant  
State development project threatens state bird - Sarus
Shahtoosh ban gains momentum worldwide
The road to disaster
Killing nilgais in the name of crop protection
Warring NGO's may spell doom for the tiger
Where have all the sparrows gone?
Cuckoos that fly out of crows' nests
Corbett park woes continue to mount
A question on post mortem examinations in the wild
Is it time to 'cry wolf' again?
Lifting of US sanctions may boost wildlife conservation
Migratory waterfowl may be hit by war in Afghanistan
UP wetlands to provide improved habitat to waterfowl
Anthrax as a potent wildlife killer
Man-elephant conflict takes heavy toll
Demoiselle cranes fly to safety in India
How long lasting are conservation victories
Fake tiger skins : a knotty disguise
Who cares for the wild here anyway?
A tribute to Charger - the long living tiger
Draining of wetlands threatening wildlife
Wildlife management needs rapid response units
Dudhwa loses another tiger
Indian Wildlife Board meets after five years

Hindustan Times, Lucknow | January 9, 2002


Draining of wetlands becomes point of contention

It was in June last year, that the very first issue raised in this column was the proposed draining of wetlands located in the Etawah and Mainpuri districts, as part of an agricultural developmental project primarily aimed at boosting productivity. All very well, except for the fact that these wetlands happened to be a prime habitat that supported substantial populations of large avian species like the Sarus and the Black-necked Stork, as well as other aquatic fauna and flora.

According to warnings sounded at that time by environmentalists and wildlife researchers connected with this area, the devastation of these wetlands had the potential of posing a serious threat to the survival of many of these life forms, even to the extent of obliterating some species that did not have the capacity to move away to other habitats.

Six months later, the issue apparently seems to be unresolved. One does not doubt that the authorities have taken serious note of the opinion of conservationists, and one also concedes there must have been strong compulsions for the implementation of the project to go on.

Be that as it may, I have received one frantic SOS, which has been circulated just today by Harsh Vardhan, a concerned bird lover from Jaipur. It is a high-pitched, fervent appeal from someone who is obviously distressed by what is happening in an area that is considered sacrosanct from the point of view of wildlife conservation. Due to a time constraint, I am unfortunately not in a position to verify many of the points raised by Harsh Vardhan, but would nevertheless like to share his concern with readers who may have some interest in this issue.

Following is a version of the text of the appeal, which has been abridged for the purpose of brevity, as well as to shear it of the element of seeming rhetoric that tends to creep into such communiqués. "The Wetlands of Mainpuri and Etawah are being sold to private people. For agricultural purposes, they are being drained out. The priority is to honour a World Bank assisted project in India's Uttar Pradesh. Obviously, the project meant to be scrapped in favour of aquatic ecological gains to people, is now put on top gear.

"It is happening in Mainpuri and Etawah districts of Uttar Pradesh. The bulldozers have been rolled down the edges of the wetlands to implement the World Bank project. Against the bulldozers stands a tiny paper, an order issued by the District Magistrates of Mainpuri and Etawah which opposes the move to drain off the wetlands.

"The District Magistrates say 'no' to draining process, for they know the needs of people. It looks like a piece of positive good news that the two District Magistrates have realised (the) significance of maintaining wetlands. Mr. Naresh Kumar, District Magistrate and Collector of Mainpuri, and Mr. S.P. Goyal, District Magistrate and Collector of Etawah, deserve congratulations. Well done, the Indian community needs more such young IAS decision makers.

"Mr. R.L. Singh, Chief Wildlife Warden of Uttar Pradesh, has already issued necessary orders to support the large wetlands in these two districts in order to ensure sustainable conditions for the Indian Sarus Cranes, Black-necked Storks and other avifauna supported therein. He has a viable proposal to develop a Sanctuary for Indian Sarus Cranes in one of the wetlands facing threat from draining.

"Who will succeed? As things stand on 7 January 2002 in these northern Indo-Gangetic plains of India, the wetlands are in danger of losing their water within few weeks! So, people should be ready to face colossal loss of aquatic ecology, birds, animals and the consequent benefits to agricultural practices and life system for the rural communities. It will be a long-term loss in face of short-term gains. The gainers shall be few. Losers will be many, and for a long time.

"Dear citizens, can you do some thing? BC Chaudhary, Principal Scientist stationed at Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, today needs your help. Gopi Sundar, working at Etawah for WII, appeals to you to stand in favour of wetlands. Rise up folks. It is time to act".