New Delhi: Maharana Pratap sagar popularly known as Pong Dam lake , The largest man made wet land of Northern India has witnessed the arrival of around 1.30 lakhs migratory birds of about 90 species from Siberia and Central Asia during this winter . The final number of migratory birds is likely to touch record number of 1.5 lakh this year as the surface water temperature of the reservoir which varies between 200 C to 400 c is best suited to them in winters.
The 307 km long bird sanctuary – an island in the lake situated at 1450 ft. mean sea level falling in Nurpur and Dehra Forest divisions of kangra district in Himachal gained the distinction of International Status called “Ramser Site” in an international forum of environmentalists in Spain during 2002
Pond Dam Lake is about 115 km from district headquarter town, Dharamshala, has emerged as a major habitat for migratory birds in the country which is made of Beas River.. This huge mass of water which varies from 180 sq. km. to 400 sq. km has emerged as a major habitat for migratory birds in the country as also an attraction for bird watchers.
Pond Dam Lake has total catchments area of 12562 sq. km which falls in Kangra, Mandi and Kullu districts with Himalayas in the back ground and Shiwalik foothills in fore
About 2.5 lakh domestic and migratory birds were sighted at the lake during this winter . The birds which were spotted in the lake included flamingos, grey and purple herons, egrets, spoonbills and storks.
The Pong wetland harbors more than 230 species of the birds belonging to about 54 bird families out of 77 families of the birds recorded in India .Avifauna includes the resident birds of jangle fowls, peafowl, Grey partridges, Black Partridges etc. Among the waterfowls main species are Bar headed geese, Pintails, common pochards, coots, Grebes, Cormorants, Herons, Storks, Ruddy shellduck, common Teal, Shovellers, Moorhen, Stints, Lapwing, Plovers, Shank, Snipe, Gull, Terns, Kingfishers, Kites, Mallards, Gadwall, Egrets, Marsh Harriers etc.
The security is further tightened in and around pong dam lake during the stay of migratory birds . While the anti poachers are pressed into service and the staff remains extra vigilant and night raids are conducted . one Van Thana in Nagrota Suriyan , HQ of Pong headed by Range Forest Officer, has been exclusively set up to deal with the poaching cases in the lake
Pong Dam Lake is considered one of the hotspots of biodiversity in the country and a great attraction for the tourists for fishing, bird watching and boating. Around 15000 tourist visited the site during the winters months from December to march last year while it is estimated that around 25000 tourist are expected to visit the site .
Director Tourism Dr Arun Sharma told that with a view to attract the tourists to the this offbeat & unexplored destinations, the Department of Tourism & Civil Aviation, with the financial assistance from Asian Development Bank (ADB) would spent 2.31$million ( Rs10.39 crore) in Pong Dam Lake in phase-I , under Infrastructure Development Investment Programme for Tourism (IDIPT). He told that various facilities would be created for tourists under this project and community based tourism activities would also be developed so that local people would also
benifit from tourism. He told that under the plan bird watching towers in Karu island , Landscaping , Information centre at Pong dam site , Jetty development, Ranser and Karu island , 4km Treks around the island , Camping facilities etc will be established to attract the tourist round the year . The project would covers, Eco, rural & cultural heritage tourism promotion and related infrastructure development.
He told that department has artificially created islands for shelters and breedings for migratory birds in natural habitat for about 36 migratory rare bird species who come to breed in the pong dam in summers mainly from south Indian and western india to breed in specific conducive conditions while the birds which come during winters come for wintering only as these birds breed in their native land during succeeding summers.