Burning Issues

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary-Today

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary-Today

 -Anirban Dasgupta

The UNESCO World Heritage Site status... A sanctuary that receives more than 300 species of birds, including the Siberian crane… …and many more ‘sweet nothings’ sound exciting and romantic…the thought of losing your heart in the midst of numerous colourful birds surrounding the green forest ….far from the madding crowd and chirping avians with their melodious tunes filling you ears have attracted number of tourists to the small village of Rajasthan – Bharatpur.

But reverse the coin for some little reality check and you are going to be hit by a shocker. A ‘dream’ trip to Bharatpur and all you will get is the sense of being cheated and ridiculed by all those nice websites and RTDC campaigns. Otiose ….a wasteland, patches of dead and half dead bushes - that’s Bharatpur bird sanctuary for you. The huge lake that used to attract thousands of migratory birds had dried up completely since at least last ten years. Any given the day of the year you will find more species of birds while having a casual morning walk in Delhi’s Okhla bird sanctuary or Gurgaon’s Sultanpur bird sanctuary…and, of course, avians are not to be blamed for this fiasco.


The inefficient administration is solely responsible for this ‘national tragedy’. In the last ten/twelve years the forest administration have failed to manage/ save a single lake and bring about some water line from any nearby sources. Even an amateur wild life lover knows that Migratory birds, especially from Siberia, have an amazing sense of location and memory…every year they fly thousands of miles across the globe to come to a particular location at a particular time and the habit goes on from generation to generation. But once they abandon a location no magic can bring them back and surely our Bharatpur forest department staff doesn’t seem to realize that. Thus, even after getting ample opportunities they surely did nothing to protect the sanctuary.


And on top of it, year after year they are making a mockery of the tourists (both Indian and Foreign), bird watchers and nature lovers by not disclosing the reality. This should be as serious an offence as deliberate cheating of human sentiments. No one can object to promoting a place for the right subject and Bharatpur today is nothing but a reasonably good picnic spot away from the polluted city environment. But, instead of working on damage control, the concerned forest department is busy en-cashing a fast diminishing commodity- baffled tourists. Be it some bunch of greedy Rickshaw pullers, some untrained so called guides trying desperately to prove their skills by pointing towards a lonely “ Jackal”, some frustrated forest staff trying to fetch some twenty rupees extra from you to ‘book’ your cycle next day… much ado about nothing…And yet drama unfolded to its final scene when we discovered the Forest Director is roaming in the dust in the early morning neatly dressed with polished shoes and a binocular in hand trying to ‘ create’ a sense of anticipation- of birds that flew away a long time back.


Recently, Billy Arjan Singh has breathed his last in his Tiger Den at Dudhwa. He died fighting his lifelong battle against the poachers and corrupt forest officials. He wanted his last rituals to be conducted in the land of Tigers only. We need many more ‘Billys’ to save this planet from dying like the lake in Bharatpur. Or else the day is not far when we all will hover around the world, like the Director of Bharatpur to look for a patch of wilderness and no binocular would help us trace one. I wonder what our armchair conservationists are doing now!

- Anirban Dasgupta 5th Jan, 2009

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