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Monday, Oct 25, 2021
Outlook.com

Flight From Paradise

With the state government not releasing water, India's best bird haven is a barren wasteland

Flight From Paradise
Jitender Gupta
Flight From Paradise
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Sputter-sputter plumf-plumf. One of the five water pumps in Rajasthan's Keoladeo National Park, KNP, bursts to life, spewing out smoke and diesel fumes in this bird haven. As the machine gathers force, the pond herons near Sapan Mori flutter out of the water and thirsty cows ring about the sludge. Up ahead the clumps of acacia trees, which housed flocks of painted storks, cormorants and herons, are bare. Underfoot, the marshes of this wetland are dry, brown and bumpy. Bumpy with the crud from cattle (5,000 by unofficial estimates) who spatter out cow-cakes before gobsmacked tourists from England, France and neighbouring Jaipur. "There's more dung here than water," says Christina Inez, a visitor from Spain.

Welcome to India's most famous birdland and a two-decade-old UNESCO World Heritage Site. Now our newest cow-shala. A sanctuary where tourists don't whisper anymore but shout over the racket of pumps that run for 20 hours a day. A 29 sq km national park where binoculars hang like dead weights around the necks of bird-watchers, here to see plumed beauties from Eurasia and...
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