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 China. A wetland once navigable by boats that are now stored upright along with their oars. A 250-year-old bird breeding ground, where resident and migratory feathered species have abandoned a thousand nests this year—due to the scarcity of water. Leaving behind their unhatched eggs as an impromptu feast for the scavenging crows.
Bharatpur, home to 370 avian species, requires 540 million cubic feet of water. Last year despite its source, the Panchana Dam, being filled to its capacity of 2,100 million cubic feet, Rajasthan CM Vasundhararaje was persuaded by farmers and local politicians to deny water to KNP. After prolonged agitation by the guides and sos appeals by the Tourism and Wildlife Society of India (TWSI) and other ngos, the park finally received only 18 million cubic feet of water in September—just one-thirtieth of its requirement.