On its last legs

A rare bird versus a canal

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

Bleak future a public interest litigation seeking a halt to construction on a part of the Telugu Ganga Canal in Andhra Pradesh was recently filed to save the only known habitat of a rare bird species. Submitted in the Supreme Court by environmentalist Bittu Sahgal, it is scheduled to come up for hearing this month.

The bird, Jerdon's Courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus), locally known as Kalvi Kodi, is designated as critically endangered in the iucn Red list. It also figures in the 'priority species list' under the National Wildlife Action Plan.

Believed to be extinct in 1900, the bird was spotted again in 1986. Most of the bird's habitat falls in the Sri Lankamaleswara Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary was created in 1986, following which the Telugu Ganga Canal -- that was earlier to flow through the area -- was realigned.

Work began on the canal only in 2005 but was stopped twice by the forest department which found the forest was being violated. Following the incidents, B Sunder, the then district forest officer of Cuddapah Division, was transferred. The construction work was restarted in January 2006.

But P Jeganathan of the Bombay Natural History Society believes that even if the canal passes close to the sanctuary, it will threaten scrub forests, which is the habitat of the bird. "For a bird is not restricted to the boundaries of a sanctuary," he says.

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