Pachpadra in Barmer that plays host to thousands of Kurja birds especially during winter will become a thing of the past with the construction of refinery here. Once the refinery work starts from August, these birds will be hardly seen. Besides, many rare varieties of birds and plants will also become extinct. Looking to these issues, whether the environment ministry will give clearance to the refinery or not is still uncertain.

Demosielle Cranes
Demosielle Cranes

Demoiselle cranes are called Kurja in local language. According to bird experts, thousands of kurja birds come for a sojourn to Pachpadra every year in the month of September from cold countries. The atmosphere of Pachpadra is conducive to these migratory birds. They stay at Talar Maidan, Harji, Imartia Chidhani, Navoda, Lyanadi pond and in the Magra area. During their six-month stay, they breed and then fly back in February. There is a lot of excitement among the locals to get a glimpse of their disciplined flight.

Around 8kms from Barmer lies the village, Kurja, which got its name from these birds who used to be regular visitors. Decades ago, there was a beautiful pond here and thousands of these ruby-eyed birds would come to the village. Villagers would sing songs to welcome them. But with the increasing population, the pond dried up and since then the birds stopped coming here.

The importance of kurja bird has even been mentioned in several folk songs of Rajasthan. They were once considered messengers to lovers, husband and father. A famous song portrays women’s despair and longing to be transported to their husbands through the flight of ‘Kurja’.

The dilemma is that the preferred spots of the bird have been selected for setting up the refinery and there is a plan to lay the foundation stone in August. Local villagers said that kurja birds are shy and stay away from humans. When the refinery work starts, these birds will have to hunt for a new place. The village elders opine that this could be the last time that the kurja birds will come to Pachpadra and our future generations will only hear about the bird in stories.

Baytu MLA Col Sonaram Choudhary said, “It is very difficult to get environment clearance for setting up refinery at Pachpadra. Large numbers of kurja birds come here and after setting up of refinery, they will stop coming. Besides, many rare species of plants and saplings are also likely to become extinct.”

“There should always be a balance between nature and development. I believe that the government and authorities will take proper measures and precautions to keep the pollution levels in check so that the environment of the area is not disturbed,” state wildlife board member Rajpal Singh said.

Source: Times of India

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