Saturday, April 23, 2011

India's Famed Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary to Go Solar

Painted storks in Keoladeo Ghana National Park

The Keoladeo Ghana National Park is one of the most spectacular bird sanctuaries in India. Its roots date back to late nineteenth century when the maharajah of Bharatpur created this approximately 29 square kilometer wetland to attract birds for shooting. By 1971, it was declared a protected sanctuary and is also a World Heritage Site. In present day, Keoladeo is a haven for bird-lovers and ornithologists. It is not only a home for the native bird populations, but also for winter visitors migrating from as far as Siberia or the Arctic Circle.

But now, there is a new miracle in the making. The bird sanctuary will soon go solar, and will be the only national park to be free of conventional energy sources. This means that everything in it will run on solar power, from lighting to air-conditioners in guest houses and offices. R.N Mehrotra, the principal chief conservator of forests and head of Rajasthan's forest forces, says that the movement will help in the reduction of carbon footprints. He further added that the project will be implemented by the Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation Limited (RRECL). The corporation has floated tenders for ten solar power plants of 200 wattage power at all the guard posts in the park, an 8-KW (kilowatt) grid-solar hybrid power plant at the Dr. Salim Ali Convention Center and another such plant near the park's entrance. There will also be solar lanterns, searchlights, and even three six-seater battery-operated cars for tourism. Officials also said that the Nature Interpretation Center within the park will be redone, and will feature an internet cafe for tourists. They further added that the park's main entrance will have closed circuit cameras to monitor any suspicious activities. The work is expected to be complete within the year.

I'm very proud and happy to see what an initiative Keoladeo Ghana has taken, regarding not just its own local environment but the environment of the world as well. In addition to protecting the wildlife from the encroachment of poaching and other threats, the national park is taking action against a far greater threat: global warming. And I have a very good feeling that the work being put will show that this bird sanctuary is further helping its wildlife to flourish. The reason is because it is where migratory birds have been flocking there for generations every winter. The change in climate would affect their annual migration in a way that they might choose not arrive every winter. This would be a huge shocker for both tourists and ornithologists. However, with this tremendous project underway, I have a strong feeling the migratory birds' biological clocks will not be affected. I also feel that Keoladeo Ghana is a perfect example of a national park that focuses on other more greater environmental issues, and not just poaching and other smaller threats. I strongly believe that other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India should follow Keoladeo's example, and this would lead to further reduction of India's carbon footprints.

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  1. The Keoladeo Ghana national park Bharatpur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best time for bird watching is either during sunrise or during sunset. Boating facilities are available at the lake and one can really go up close to the birds and watch them frolicking with gay abandon.