''We do not know why the govt is sitting tight on this issue. Even Forest Secretary P N Roy Choudhury (recently shuffled to another department) had visited this wetland last December together with a host of top forest officials and had given the impression that his first act would be to take up this long pending issue upon his return to Gandhinagar. More than six months has passed now and a new secretary has replaced him. Nobody knows the reason for such a long delay," said a birdwatcher, who has worked on the Chhari Dhand project.
Spread over 80 sq kms, this wetland, 80 kms south west of Bhuj near Fulary village, literally dwarfs the world famous Bharatpur bird sanctuary at Rajasthan in matters of size, which is spread over 29 sq kms.
The wetland is seasonal and gets swampy during a good monsoon, receiving water from the north flowing rivers as well as from the huge catchment areas of many big hills.
According to Jugalkishor Tiwari from the NGO 'Centre for Desert and Ocean,' the abundance of water during the monsoons attracts birds to this wetland. "I recently counted about 12,000 flamingos in their mating plumage at the wetland. I also saw a few Caspian terns and two Avocots. I have also counted 500 painted storks and 419 spoonbills," he said.
He said the wetland also attracts endangered birds, besides wolves, caracal, desert cats and desert foxes.
"This is one of India's unique wasteland, which is home to nearly two lakh birds during the monsoon and the winter. The wetland qualifies all the requisites for its place in the Ramsar list of global wetlands of international importance. Even a single species of common cranes here number around 30,000, which is more than the minimum population of 20,000 birds required for a wetland for being enlisted in the Ramsar list."
No state or district level Forest Department official, incumbent Forest Secretary S K Nanda was, however, available for comments because of their engagement with the state govt's school enrolment programme.
Spread over 80 sq kms, this wetland dwarfs the Bharatpur bird sanctuary in matters of size, which is spread over 29 sq kms