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Pong Dam to become birdwatchers’ paradise

Wildlife department to setup tents for boarding/lodging of birdwatchers who otherwise have to shift to other places like Dharamshala which results in missing early hours suitable for bird watching.

Statesman News Service | Shimla |

The birdwatchers’ search for boarding facilities at the biggest man made reservoir in India, Pong Dam in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, would soon be over as the Wildlife Department is gearing up to setup facilities at the lake.

Earlier the tourists and birdwatchers had to shift to Dharamshala or other nearby places for the want of facilities at the bird sanctuary in pong Dam.

The tourists and birdwatchers visiting the bird sanctuary in Nagrota Surian were earlier a harried lot as the precious time for watching or observing the birds was lost in travelling to the place.

“The most preferable time for observing and studying the birds is early morning or in evening, but the lack of boarding facilities was proving a dampener,” Divisional Forest Officer Krishna Kumar told The Statesman.

Kumar said the department has now decided to solve the problem by setting up 15 tents in sanctuary area for tourists and birdwatchers so that they are able to enjoy birdwatching.

And now they would be able to enjoy the serenity of the place and research better on migratory birds.

The move would also boost tourism activities in Pong Dam bird sanctuary area, he added. Besides this, the department would create cycle trails at Pong dam for pollution free and noise free ride along the lake.

For the purpose, the department had already procured 15-20 bicycles for providing clean transport to tourists while the work on the trail is on.

“We would have completed the cycle trail work by now, but the inclement weather conditions had hampered the work. However, the Wildlife department would be able to complete the work by November, the time when migratory birds flock arrives in the lake for winter sojourn,” he said.

It is worthwhile to mention here that over 1 lakh feathered guests arrive in Pong Dam, which is a wellknown wildlife sanctuary.

The migratory birds fly from entire central Asia to Russia and Siberia to roost at the water reservoir, also named as the Maharana Pratap Sagar dam and it is the largest man made wetland, measuring 314 square kilometres in the foothills of Himalayas and is located at a distance of around 300 kilometres from Shimla.

The birds start arriving at Pong wetland by the end of September every year and stays there till January or February.

Barring few years, in normal course, more than a lakh waterfowls of different species come to the reservoir for their sojourn, turning the area into a bird watchers’ paradise.

Around 117 species of waterfowls were recorded in Pong dam in 2017-18 as compared to 93 in 2016-17, out of which 74 are migratory species and 43 are resident species.