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Winter guests yet to come chirping

- Forest officials blame rising pollution, changing climate for bird no-show

Bokaro/Dhanbad, Dec. 18: The water bodies are silent, the cacophony is missing and bird watchers are sad.

The winged guests, who usually set Maithon Dam, Tenughat Dam, Garga river, Chandrapura, Damodar, Konar river basin, Bokaro cooling pond and other reservoirs abuzz with their chirping during winter, are yet to flock to the coal belt this year.

Starling, ruff, black-winged stilt, common teal, gadwall, brown-headed and black-headed gulls, spoon bill, greenshank, white and yellow wagtail, northern pintail, garganey, common coot, mallard, pygmy goose, pochard, red-crested pochard and combed duck migrate to Dhanbad, Bokaro, Maithon, Chandrapura, Tenughat and other parts of the coal belt besides Purulia and Asonsol in Bengal around November-end and early December. Bokaro district forest officer (DFO) Arvind Manish blamed the changing climatic and rising pollution for the no-show till now.

“An entire area of more than 100sqkm from Bermo (Bokaro) to Maithon in Dhanbad is in the throes of natural degradation with water bodies drying up or being used for cultivation. The water level in big rivers like Damodar, Konar and Garga has also gone down. Besides, water pollution caused by largescale discharge of industrial and domestic sewage through canals and drains has taken a toll on health of rivers. No wonder, migratory birds are giving them a miss,” Manish said.

Jagdish Mahto, who is better known as “tree man” for his plantation drives in Bokaro, agreed, saying that rising pollution, scarcity of big water bodies and cutting of trees have impacted the arrival of migratory birds.

Retired professor of sociology and bird lover B.N. Jha of Bokaro steel city said forest officials and experts ought to look at new ways to woo back the winter guests.

“We don’t know the ecological need of all varieties of migratory birds but we can create a perfect ambience by regulating human intervention and exploring new areas in water bodies,” Jha said.

The birds arrive as soon as temperatures dip and stay in Jharkhand till April.