Menar: Deathtrap for the Winged Beauties?

World Wetlands Day: 2nd February
The winged creatures flocking at Menar village in Udaipur.
The winged creatures flocking at Menar village in Udaipur.

The community known as the Bird Village, presently referred to as Menar, is slated to endure a severe loss of its avian diversity in the impending years if the contamination of its water sources through sewage and encroachment persists unmitigated.

Udaipur— The tranquil village of Menar is renowned for its picturesque landscapes and the abundance of avian life that flocks to its shores. The BrahmSagar and Dhund talaab, two shimmering ponds that dot the village, are the centerpiece of this beauty. Menar has been recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA). The still waters provide a peaceful haven for hundreds of migratory and resident birds and the villagers take great pride in their preservation and protection. These were probably the reasons for the Forest Department, which had sent a proposal to the state government in February 2022, recommending Menar to be notified as a Wetland.

However, over time, the once pristine waters of the Brahmsagar and Dhund talaab have become increasingly contaminated by the reckless actions of the villagers aa well as the government apathy. The blue waters are gradually turning black & green.

Some 200 fishes were recently found dead in the water bodies, indicating the inferior quality of water.
Some 200 fishes were recently found dead in the water bodies, indicating the inferior quality of water.

Mindless dumping of waste

The Brahmsagar and Dhund talaab, which are severely getting contaminated due to the dirty water flowing from homes through nullahs directly into the water bodies.

"Menar village consists of some 1500 households inhabited by 8000 people. The significant increase in the number of homes and lack of a proper sewage system is causing an exponential increase in the amount of waste and sewage being dumped into the ponds. The community feasts, which were once an important cultural tradition, have now become a major source of pollution, with large quantities of food waste and dirty water being recklessly discarded into the ponds, causing further degradation of their quality." Umesh Menaria, a nature enthusiast and resident of the village told The Mooknayak. He further says, recently more than 200 fishes died in the ponds which indicates the poor water quality. "Fishes die due to low oxygen level during summers but the high mortality during the peak winter season can primarily be attributed to other causes including water contamination," Umesh said.

Villagers are dumping heaps of garbage daily near the ponds.
Villagers are dumping heaps of garbage daily near the ponds.

The threat of high-tension line

In addition to the pollution, the villagers have another concern that is putting their lives at risk. High-tension power lines run over the ponds, and the fear of a short circuit is always looming. Sarpanch Pramod Kumar Dholi says "The possibility of an electrical malfunction that could cause a catastrophic disaster is a constant source of anxiety for the villagers."

Despite the efforts of a few concerned citizens, who have tried to raise awareness about the issue, the situation has only worsened. The panchayat samiti is making no moves to address the problem or construct a proper sewerage line so that dirty water do no flow into the ponds. "Some of the villagers are dumping their dairy waste on the banks of the water bodies and one can see heaps of cow dung and other waste accumulated by the shallow water which is the most preferable place for migratory birds. Those places where the winged creatures took refuge are slowing being captured by the four-legged ones" Dr. Sunil Dubey, an expert on wildlife told The Mooknayak in a concerned voice. He says the water is being highly polluted as people are openly bathing and washing clothes at the Brahmasagar ghat. The birds are sure to vanish from the site in the coming years if these activities aren't checked immediately. "The village panchayat is responsible for constructing concrete nallah which is dumping the village waste water into the ponds, who gave them the permission to do this idiotic act?" Dubey questions.

Sewage water flowing into the ponds is the major cause of pollution.
Sewage water flowing into the ponds is the major cause of pollution.

Menar mere shadow of its former self

The Mooknayak attempted to speak to Rajkumar Jain, the Regional Conservator of Forests to know about the government's efforts in conserving the wetland, but he did not respond. Activists claim that the administration's lack of concern and action has made it clear that they do not value the well-being of the avian community or the preservation of the environment.The once proud and thriving village of Menar is now reducing to a shadow of its former self, a bleak testament to the devastating effects of neglect and apathy. The bird lovers can only hope that the administration will soon realize the gravity of the situation and take action to restore the Brahmsagar and Dund talaab to their former glory.

The winged creatures flocking at Menar village in Udaipur.
Destruction of natural habitats leading to decline of sparrow pop in Rajasthan

The glory of Menar

  1. The two lakes in the Menar village – the Brahma Sagar and Dhandh play host to a large number of migratory birds every year.

  2. The Forest Department initiated the process for notification of Menar as a wetland last February, which is expected to recognise its role in the storage of sediment and nutrients and enable the local authorities to maintain the respective lakes.

  3. With the status of wetlands, the two water bodies will be strengthened for increasing the vegetation of aquatic plants and protecting biodiversity

  4. More than 150 species of local and migratory birds inhabit the two ponds in the winter season. This includes the Greater Flamingo, White-tailed Lapwing, Pelican, Marsh Harrier, Bar-headed Goose, Common Teal, Greenshank, Pintail, Wagtail, Green Sandpiper etc

  5. Bird lovers and tourists flock to the village after the arrival of migratory birds from as far as Central Asia, Europe and Mongolia.

Ramsar Sites in Rajasthan

At present, Rajasthan has two wetlands recognised as Ramsar sites –

  1. Keoladeo Ghana in Bharatpur district

  2. Sambhar Salt Lake in Jaipur district.

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