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Nation at a Glance

Peacock numbers dwindle in capital

new delhi: The national bird is fast disappearing from the capital, reports our correspondent.

Though exact figures about the number of peacocks in the capital are not available, some forest department officials admit that the bird’s population might have dwindled over the years. “The possibility is high, but nothing can be said with certainty as no census of the peafowl population has been carried out,” said S.S. Garbyal, chief wildlife warden of Delhi.

Leading ornithologists and people living in the Ridge areas say the bird is gradually vanishing from Delhi. “I’ve been in this area for the last 40 years. There was a time when people from as far as Sonepat used to come here to watch this lovely bird. Now only about 40 of them are here in this Ridge and they, too, will vanish very soon,” said Giriraj Sharma, the priest of the Hanuman temple in the northern Ridge.

Peacocks survive mainly on jowar and bajra. With agricultural land giving way to concrete structures as a result of urbanisation, these birds are shifting to greener pastures outside the city. The breeding rate of most birds is low in Delhi, points out the Survey of Peafowl Population in Delhi carried out by World Pheasant Association in 1995-96. The survey highlights factors like decrease of shrub cover, use of pesticides by farmers and the growing menace of predators like dogs and snakes as reasons for the phenomenon.

Growing human interference and failure of civic agencies to provide parks in residential colonies have also taken their toll by forcing hundreds of people to venture into Delhi’s forests for walks and leisure activities. Consequently, all four Ridges are gradually turning into parks. Government agencies, however, are yet to undertake a study that would reveal the factors behind the phenomenon or usher in ameliorative measures to effect a turnaround in the situation.

Sekhon joins Congress

jalandhar (PTI): Air Marshal M.S. Sekhon, who was forced to quit for allegedly seeking the influence of former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for his promotion, has joined the Congress.

Sekhon joined the party on Monday in the presence of chief minister Amarinder Singh at a function here organised by the All India Congress Committee’s ex-servicemen cell.

Asked why he joined the Congress which was reportedly responsible for his ouster from the air force, Sekhon said he had put behind him the controversy.

“No doubt that the issue hit me hard in my life but I always believe in marching ahead,” he said.

“I do not know who was responsible for my fate, but as I have already said, I believe in marching ahead instead of looking back,” Sekhon added.

Atma Ram case suspension

ghaziabad (PTI): Five policemen, including the station house officer of Dhaulana police station, have been suspended for negligence of duty in the murder case of Delhi corporator Atma Ram Gupta.

Senior superintendent of police Chander Prakash said when Gupta was gunned down on August 24 and the body was lying for at least four hours at the spot, nothing was done by the SHO and the staff though they had received the information. All the five suspended policemen will face inquiry.

Kerala protest

thiruvananthapuram (PTI): Police fired 10 rounds of rubber bullets at Kanhangad in Kasargode district to disperse a mob after an agitation by various pro-Opposition outfits demanding a rollback in power tariff hike turned violent in many places in Kerala. Police said four policemen and four CPM volunteers were injured in a scuffle after the workers pelted stones and tried to enter the taluka office at Kanhangad.

Officer in graft net

chandigarh (PTI): An executive engineer of the irrigation department was arrested while allegedly accepting Rs 13,000 as bribe from a contractor in Sonipat district, the Haryana Vigilance Bureau said. Randhir Singh was caught red-handed while accepting the money.

Girl murdered

mumbai (PTI): A youth allegedly murdered his sister over a dispute about his love affair with a girl whom his family did not approve of, police said. Twenty-year-old Namrata Narendra Sheth was assaulted and killed by her 23-year-old brother, Raju, at their Adarsh Tower Building on Monday night. The girl was apparently clubbed to death with a heavy object, police said. Raju has been arrested.

30 children fall ill

new delhi (PTI): At least 30 children were taken seriously ill and hospitalised after drinking suspected contaminated water in a school here on Tuesday morning, police said. The children were hospitalised after they complained of severe stomach pains.

9 killed in collision

gandhinagar (PTI): At least nine persons were killed when a private bus collided with a truck near Doria Fatak in Rajkot on Tuesday. While eight persons died on the spot, one succumbed to injuries later, police said.

Western Railways have installed Advance Railway Ticketing System machines at five major stations to issue unreserved tickets a day in advance. The machines have been installed at Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Bandra, Borivli and Surat stations.


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