Ravaged Ranganathittu gets a fresh lease of life

Ravaged Ranganathittu gets a fresh lease of life

January 3, 2019

Mysuru: A fresh lease of life is being given to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary which was extensively damaged and submerged following heavy rain in July, August and September last year along Cauvery Basin and the release of more than 1.20 lakh cusecs of water from the Krishna Raja Sagar Dam. The Forest Department has come forward to restore a few islands by using sand bags and the works are going on in full swing.

The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is one of the most popular tourist spots in the State and is rated as among the best in the country. The bird sanctuary, spread over 34 islands, attracts thousands of migratory birds (more than 200 species), including the rarest of the rare birds every year.

The Sanctuary was literally submerged due to heavy inflow of water from River Cauvery, the lifeline for people of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in August and September last year. On an average, more than 60,000-75,000-1.20 lakh cusecs of water was being released from the KRS Dam on a day-to-day basis and this turbulence damaged the bird-populated islands.

The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary that was ravaged by flood waters last year

The islands were submerged between July 14 and 30. It was also under water for most of the days in August and September. Due to the force of the water, soil in the islands was washed away and many trees were uprooted and thousands of birds and nests were washed away.

Since many birds build nests at the root of the trees to give birth to young ones, the Forest Department is taking steps to strengthen the islands. In a bid to give a new shape to the islands, the Department has taken up the work of restoring the islands to its pristine glory with Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Mysuru Wildlife Division, Sidramappa Chalkapure leading a team of officers including Range Forest Officer (RFO) Ananya Kumar, Deputy Range Forest Officer (DRFO) Officer M. Puttemadegowda and staff.

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There are around 120 crocodiles in Ranganathittu and in the light of this a lot of precaution must be taken to do the restoration work. Department people with expertise are being used to take up such a dangerous work. They have to sometime stand on the islands and at other times get into the water to do the work. And at such times there are chances of crocodiles attacking them.

A crocodile is spotted resting near an island at Ranganathittu. Workers setting up the sand bags have to work under such dangerous condition and a small negligence may prove costly.

The islands which were ravaged include Openbill Stork Island, Purple Heron Island, Cormorant Island, and Kadunase Island where sand bags are now being stacked up and strengthened. Sand bags are being stacked up around the islands and mud is being poured on the top them.

Besides, a variety of trees like cotton, Indian Willow (Salix tetrasperma), Banyan (Ficus benghalensis), Manila Tamarind (Pithecrllobium dulce) and other plants and saplings are being planted. Already 2,000 Indian Willow saplings have been planted.

If the islands are not restored, then there is every possibility of the islands being completely destroyed during the next rainy season once the water-level in the Cauvery increases. Keeping the future in mind, the islands are being extended. Experts are diving six-feet deep into water and arranging the sand bags, forest officials said.

By M.T. Yogesh Kumar

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