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Notorious Chambal ravines to host India’s biggest bird festival

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Lucknow: The image of the Chambal ravines in Uttar Pradesh, so far portrayed the world over as the backyard of horse-mounted and gun-wielding dacoits, is set to turn a new leaf this December as the the rat-a-tat of bullets, as seen in many Bollywood flicks is set to be replaced by the soothing chirps of birds of various hues.

This, as the ravines are set to be host to over 75 domestic and international wildlife experts, photographers and eminent bird watchers between December 4-6 at the country’s first Bird Festival. Sources told IANS that the event of this magnitude has never been held in India before and has been conceived on the lines of the British Bird Fair held in England every year in the third week of August.

Organizers say that from now on, this event would be an annual affair and after the inaugural edition at the Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary, would next year be hosted in the Terai region, which is rich in bio-diversity with Katrania Ghat, Dudhwa National Park and other wetlands and water bodies that are home to hundreds of bird species.

Ram Pratap Singh, a member of the Uttar Pradesh tourism and wildlife boards, said that the state was home to more than 500 species of birds – almost half the country’s total – and hence was ideal for hosting such an event.

“The idea behind the event is two pronged – first is to sensitize people of the rich bio-diversity in the state and second to popularize bird watching tourism which has picked up in a big way across the globe,” Ram Pratap Singh told IANS.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has confirmed his participation in the high-profile event, which he will inaugurate and release a book, “Birds of UP”, principal secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal told IANS, adding that the chief minister had also asked his department, along with the forest department, to extensively publicize the do so that people are bonded to wildlife.

Other than the experts, around 100 schoolchildren from nearby institutions in Agra, Etawah, Firozabad, Mainpuri and Shikohabad would attend the event every day and take part in debates, art competitions and other event-related activities.

“The idea is to expose young minds to wildlife conservation and inculcate love and passion for bird watching,” an organizer informed.

The experts, among them Tim Inskipp, Carol Inskipp, Pamela Rasmussen, Tim Appleton, Per Alstrom, Bano Haralu, Paul Donald, Gopi Sundar, Jackie Garner and Pete Marshall, would stay at the National Chambal Sanctuary in specially pitched tents for three days.

“This is a large enterprise and has received an overwhelming response from wildlife enthusiasts,” Nikhil Devasar, an advisor to the event, told IANS, adding that air tickets for experts from across the globe have been booked.

There will be talks by prominent ornithologist from around the globe. Workshops by professional photographers and art shows by renowned artists, as also a bird ringing station.

Early mornings would be for birdwatching in the nearby forest or boat safaris on the Chambal river followed by talks and workshops during the day.

It has also been proposed that as the event kick-starts, district magistrates and district forest officers (DFOs) across the state hold bird-watching camps at which footffalls of 15,000 to 20,000 are expected.

“The idea is to spread the goodwill and interest for bird watching,” Ram Pratap Singh mused.

Happy bird watching!

(Mohit Dubey, IANS)

 

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Report Claims, As Many As 1 Billion Indians Live in Areas of Water Scarcity

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater -- 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater -- 12 per cent of the global total.

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Global groundwater depletion - where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally - increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India's rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period. Pixabay

As many as one billion people in India live in areas of physical water scarcity, of which 600 million are in areas of high to extreme water stress, according to a new report.

Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid.

This number is expected to go up to five billion by 2050, said the report titled “Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water 2019”, released to mark World Water Day on March 22.

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Pure water droplet. Pixabay

Physical water scarcity is getting worse, exacerbated by growing demand on water resources and and by climate and population changes.

By 2040 it is predicted that 33 countries are likely to face extremely high water stress – including 15 in the Middle East, most of Northern Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Spain. Many – including India, China, Southern Africa, USA and Australia – will face high water stress.

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Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid. Pixabay

Global groundwater depletion – where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally – increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India’s rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period.

Also Read: Beware! Sipping Hot Tea Raises Risk of Esophageal Cancer

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater — 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater — 12 per cent of the global total.

The WaterAid report warned that food and clothing imported by wealthy Western countries are making it harder for many poor and marginalised communities to get a daily clean water supply as high-income countries buy products with considerable “water footprints” – the amount of water used in production — from water-scarce countries. (IANS)