Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pelicans in peril at Harohalli lake

Pelicans in peril at Harohalli lake
Subhash Chandra N S, Bangalore, Dec 27, DHNS:

Project Nisarga, a Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike initiative to save lakes, is endangering migratory birds. Unscientific implementation of the project has resulted in scaring away of pelicans from their habitat, the Harohalli lake on Magadi Road near Sunkadakatte.

The adverse effects of use of heavy machinery to clean up the lake is quite visible on the wildlife. The lake, dubbed as pelicans’ paradise is now without birds. Instead, heavy machineries are found in the area, which are being utilised for digging their natural habitat, mercilessly. “It is not only scaring them away, but have deprived them of their favourite food- the fish. Water in the lake is being drained out and the lake is becoming marshy and parched,” says environmentalist M Sunil Kumar.

Migratory birds
Besides pelicans, this lake had been a hub for migratory birds like painted storks, white ibis, cormorants, pied kingfishers, shovellers and several species of geese.
The sighting of these rare birds had turned Harohalli a favourite destination for bird lovers. Pelicans which arrived in single digits two years ago, had increased their number to 43 this year, claimed environmentalists.

The pelicans, first sighted in 2007, were found resting in the island amidst the water body, since then. With their numbers growing every year, the lake, according to the bird lovers, would have been a breeding place for this bird, after Kokkrebellur near Mysore. However, things started taking an ugly turn with the lake getting polluted by discharge of industrial effluents and sewage into the lake.

Another blow was dealt by the BBMP in 2008 by allowing fishing in the lake. Soon, several buoys of fishermen started floating in the lake. As if these were not enough, the BBMP woke up from its slumber to rejuvenate lakes under its special campaign, ‘Save the lakes’.

Dry lake bed
“The lake is almost drying due to this so-called lake development work. Heavy earth-digging machines have been deployed and water is being drained out”, says Sunil. After the rare birds vanished, those left now are the crows, a few egrets, pond herons and kites picking up the remaining fish from the muddy water.

When contacted, a BBMP official said, sewage had badly polluted the lake and there was urgency to take up lake rejuvenation programme.

“We are diverting the sewage water and insisting that the builders start using water treatment plant for aqua-filter. Owing to the criticism on environmental count, we are taking help of an environmentalist”, said the officer.

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