Jammu, Feb 2: On the eve of World Wetland Day, Chief Secretary, Dr Arun Kumar Mehta Thursday visited the Gharana Wetland here and laid the foundation stone for the all round development of the wetland as an example of conservation of ecosystem and an attractive tourist spot.
Those who accompanied the Chief Secretary includes Commissioner Secretary, Forests; Secretary, Tourism; Secretary, Floriculture; Divisional Commissioner, Jammu; Deputy Commissioner, Jammu; DDC Member, Suchetgarh; Director, Social Forestry; Chief Engineer, PWD; Chief Wildlife Warden besides other officers of the Forest Department along with scores of students from local educational institutions.
On the Occasion the Chief Secretary highlighted the importance of fresh water reserves like lakes and rivers. He maintained that these ecosystems actually makes the earth a place to live. He underscored the need of creating awareness among the locals about the potential of such natural treasures and the benefits these bear for the humanity. He emphasised on utilizing the local material and people in its conservation and management.
Dr Mehta also observed that such places are best tourist destinations that attract nature lovers of their own. He observed that our endeavour should be to protect them along with making best out of their beauty and aesthetics. He made out that along with the nearby Suchetgarh village, Bagh-i-Bhour this wetland would soon become a complete tourist circuit for all to visit.
He urged the concerned to carryout a study of the health of the ecosystem so that the conservation measures are more focused and result-oriented. He stressed on taking measures for increasing the water level in the water body and number of migratory birds coming here from distant countries. He stated that besides being eco-friendly places these add to local economy by attracting visitors from far off places. He stated that locals would be the major beneficiaries of development of Gharana.
The Commissioner Secretary, Forests, Sanjeev Verma made out that the Department has carried out surveys of all these wetlands in terms of their significance in our Biodiversity. He said that the Department has successfully created management plans for all of them. He gave out that the Department is in a process of conservation of all of them. He revealed that in the last few years 5 of these has been added to the list of Ramsar Sites by UNESCO.
The Chief Wildlife Warden in his address gave a detailed outline of the development plan of the Gharana Eco-Spot. He stated that besides developing the water body the plan includes developing a large park, bird viewing decks, biogas plant, cafeteria, composting plant, Wallowing area, parking area, STP, perches, reed plantation area and many more common amenities.
It is pertinent to mention here that the water body attracts thousands of birds from even far off continents and offers a great opportunity for bird lovers to watch them closely. The main attractions includes bar-headed geese, common teals, Indian moorhens, gadwalls, green shanks flocks, purple swamp-hens etc.
Moreover it is learnt that the number of these migratory birds remains around 4,000 to 5,000 during the peak season. The Gharana Wetland, notified in the year 1981, generally receives migratory birds from Central Asia, Mongolia, Russia, China and other countries across the globe.
During the ceremony the Chief Secretary planted the tree saplings at the site. He also presented Wildlife Awards among the winners and gave pledge to the ‘Wetland Mitras’ identified by the Department for carrying out the protection work of this water body voluntarily in collaboration with the Forest Department.
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