Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ill-timed lake projects will end bird visits

Ill-timed lake projects will end bird visits

December 30th, 2009
By Our Correspondent
Tags: bird visits, protection of lakes

December 29: Instead of the whoops of joy it had expected, the government is being hooted at for badly timing its project to protect lakes and rejuvenate the city 's depleting groundwater table. It has apparently got the season wrong for the conservation project as this is the time of year that birds arrive in large numbers at many of the lakes around the city. There is now concern that the bird census which takes place every January may not be possible this year as many of the migratory birds which arrive at the lakes from European and other Asian countries this season, may keep away while various agencies work to give the water bodies a fresh lease of life.
Seeming quite unaware of what its project could do to the birds, the goverment has in good faith joined hands with the BBMP and BDA to rejuvenate 32 lakes by freeing them of sewage and garbage. While conservationists are happy that the authorities have finally woken up to the need to protect the city's lakes, they feel the project could have waited till June, explaining that while the migratory birds come in search of warmer climates this time of the year, local species flock around them for breeding. Biodiversity and bird expert Harish Bhat is worried that local bird species may now find it difficult to find a safe place for breeding and feeding their young ones.
“Local species like the pelican, painted stark, open billed stark, night heron, grey heron, white ibis and others need a proper habitat, safety and availability of food for breeding, which they may now not find due to the work going on around the lakes,” he says.
Mr Bhat suggests that only lakes which are in dire need of rejuvenation or which are hardly visited by birds should be handled this season, leaving the rest for later.
“Alternatively the government could go in for wet dredging which allows desilting of lakes without draining them,” he maintains. Although this technique is expensive , it could be used in at least some of the lakes in the interests of the migratory birds and local breeding species, he feels.
Draining the lakes means depriving the birds of food, even though not all of them feed on fish, Mr Bhat argues.
“There are several vegetarian species of birds which feed only on aquatic plants, but if the lakes are emptied of water, these too will not be available,” he points out. Fortunately in the case of Puttenahalli Lake, bird watchers were consulted and their advice taken into account, according to him.

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