Subject: The Keoladeo National Park
must BE RESTORED AND MAINTAINED as a wetland of global importance
Hon. Prime Minister of India,
Secretariat, South Block,
Ministry of Environment and Forests,
Lodhi Road, New Delhi
Smt. Vasundhara Raje
Chief Minister of Rajasthan
has been drawn to the plight of the Keoladeo National Park which, if corrective
measures are not implemented, will have long lasting repercussions for both the ecology and local residents. The Park is the
habitat of over 350 species of birds and has been declared a World Heritage Site. Migrating birds visiting the wetlands annually
include the famed Siberian Crane, Sarus Crane, Black Necked Stork, Sociable Lapwing, Pallas’ Fishing Eagle, Marshall’s Iora and the Greater Adjutant. As a result of successive
droughts, largely as a result of poor land management, the area has dried up and migratory birds now cease to visit these
The history of the park and its ecological importance are summarised here:
- The Keoladeo National Park at Bharatpur, originally a duck shooting reserve for royalty, was declared
a bird sanctuary in 1956. In 1985 it was awarded World Heritage Site status from UNESCO. The wetlands are also a Ramsar Site
of global importance.
- The Park has suffered extreme drought over the past few years and the situation is likely
to get worse. In 2001 when the endangered Siberian Cranes failed to arrive at Bharatpur, warnings of the gravity of the problem
- Insufficient rainfall during 2004 led to an immense stress for insects, birds, fish, snakes
and other such life forms on which birds depend. The Ajan bund, fed by the Ghambir and Banganga rivers normally provide water for the park. This year, water from
these sources was diverted for land irrigation.
- Occasional drought is part of the normal natural cycle. However, the present scenario is
extremely critical in that nesting activity is at its lowest ebb ever and, to make matters worse, resident birds are abandoning
the region for greener pastures.
- A number of other factors combine to make the situation worse. These include antiquated pumping
equipment (still not modernised despite governmental sanctions); the illegal grazing by 5,000 cattle.
of the park’s natural resources, and thereby its attractiveness for ‘green’ tourism, is resulting
in unemployment – and eventually poverty - for local residents, many of whom act as nature guides and rickshaw pullers.
Two simple low-cost measures, with long term effect, could and must be implemented urgently to halt and hopefully reverse
this unacceptable decline in biodiversity and its impact on the local economy.
We urge you
to take urgent action to:
- Ensure an adequate provision of effective water pumps to restore the wetlands to their former
- Introduce an environmental awareness programme for local farmers and land workers to educate
them in the long term ecological and economic importance of the area.
In the hope
that you will treat this matter with the necessary priority we remain,
(Name and address)
© Proact 2005