Dreams in dust

Plans to develop Salim Ali's dream bird sanctuary lie unattended to

Published: Friday 15 August 1997

Thanks to the lethargy of the Bihar state government and its preoccupation with the politi-cal turmoil in the state, world-renowned ornithologist Salim Ali's dream project, the Kaber wetland bird sanctuary development scheme is yet to take off. The first instalment of Rs 31 lakh released for this Centre-sponsored project, lying in the Bihar government's coffers, is yet to see the light of day.

The wetland, visited by over 50 varieties of birds from all over the world, invited praise from Salim Ali who visited the site in 1973 and declared that it was "the three times cousin of the famous Bharatpur bird sanctuary". He saw great potential for the area and believed it could become one of the country's most prestigious wetlands.

The project has progressed to the extent that the state government has notified it as the Jubba Sahni Salim Ali Barela wetland bird sanctuary.The credit for this goes to the fact that both Jai Narayan Prasad Nishad, the former Union minister of state for environment and forests, and Tulsi Das Mehta, the state environment and forest minister, hail from Barela Chour in Vaishali district - where the site is located - and expressed keen interest in the project. But ever since the attention of the state and the Centre has got diverted towards other issues, the project remains one in paper and the stipulated time for completion is past us.

Another problem dogging the project is its likely impact on the livelihoods of local farmers and fisherfolk. A group of senior officials who recently visited the site, to appraise the latest situation, may suggest some structural changes in the project plan in order to accommodate these difficulties.

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