|Date||27 Feb 2012|
India has numerous Wetlands, Lakes and Reservoirs serving manifold benefits. Jaipur's Man Sagar lake is more than 400-year-old lake, about 1.5 sq. km in size. It has Aravali hills on three sides while the city on the fourth side. People could not have imagined a better location. However, peoples' effluent flow caused the lake to degenerate and lose, to an extent, its aquatic eco-system values. We realised it and decided to hold Birding Fairs to educate people and seek their active support to restore lake's eco-system, a challenging task.
The Rufford Grant has helped to organise this programme better managed and maintain it longer. The present programme was initiated with the 15th Birding Fair (2 - 3 February 2012) where in about 2,000 students-teachers from 15 Schools gathered to understand the problems of this water body and addressed SOS Appeals to the Government to accord priority to lake-conservation as citizens' health was co-related with the health of this lake. Publications were brought out to highlight the issue, which carried the logo of Rufford.
Several sessions were conducted each day, at the Fair venue (lake-dam) on the spot with groups of about 70 - 80 students-teachers at a time, to make them understand how the effluent-flow in to the lake was now being diverted to not let its water receive toxic waste, how aquatic vegetation was relevant for helping its water improve its quality and it also could serve as feed for birds which also contribute towards improving chemistry of water. Fish samples were displayed before them to realise that the present stock of fish was not acceptable by birds. House Sparrow Nest Boxes were especially developed, as are used in England, and displayed to Fair visitors so that Sparrow breeding can be stepped up in the city as citizens' initiative, these birds are on decline, -- nearly 50 such Boxes could be sold on the spot, at token cost, first time in the city's history. It has ushered in a catalytic effort in favour of the lake
Dr. Ashok Singhvi, Principal Secretary to Government of Rajasthan, led the Coservation-Initiative and gave away certificates to about 50 Volunteers who joined to strengthen the programme. He interacted with various voluntary groups who had shared the Sessions to know what the Government could do for the lake in question -- Jaipur's Man Sagar.
Dr. Singhvi formally released the House Sparrow Nest Boxes and Bird Feeder Boxes for use by the public on this occasion, buying one set for his own use (see the photograph here). Fifty such Boxes have been picked up by officials so far (end February 12). The target is to recruit about 3,000 House Sparrows during the ensuing breeding season (March - June), in the city of Jaipur to reinstate their declining number.
Doing so is an ideal method to approach citizens -- students-teachers carrying home the publications and parents learning from them about needs of their lake, many parents being decision-makers in the Government. Voice of people matters in a democratic society, and it became 'authentic' as 'seeing is believing.' Next steps will involve: surveying the aquatic vegetation of the lake (ii) sampling the fish species in the lake (iii) and such reports to form a dialogue with the Government authorities to initiate actions for appropriate conservation of this lake. The department of fisheries and Jaipur Development Authority, two government functionaries, are being involved in the process.
Read about Harsh's previous grant http://www.ruffordsmallgrants.org/rsg/projects/harsh_vardhan or for more information contact: