GUWAHATI: The Rising Sun Water Festival kicked off with a three-day schedule at the Deepor Beel on Friday under the Eastern Command of the Indian Armed Forces. But the organising of the event at a protected water body that too coincided with the arrival of the migratory birds has sparked serious concerns in circles of environmentally aware persons.
The Deepor Beel in Guwahati is one of the only three Ramsar sites in the northeastern part of the country and is home to a large number of migratory birds in the winter season. It also has a protected status as a bird sanctuary. Its importance can also be judged from the fact that the local administration imposes a ban on fishing in the water body and even arrests local people participating in the ceremonial community fishing ahead of Magh Bihu every year, citing the preservation of the residents as well as migratory species in the region. It can also be noted that the Deepor Beel is an important source of water for the wild elephants residing in the nearby Garbhanga Wildlife Reserve.
Keeping all these points in mind, conservationists as well as local people have questioned the state government as well as the local authorities as to whether a watersports event should be organised within the boundaries of a protected area, thus creating problems for the migratory birds as well as the local fauna. Some even questioned if such activities could lead to the loss of the Ramsar Site status that this water body holds.