Row over sanctuary status to Bonal tank
BY ANAND V YAMNUR
DH NEWS SERVICE, GULBARGA:
The biggest tank in the district, the Bonal tank, situated in Surpur taluk appears to be mired in an unnecessary controversy, a tangle that involves the fishermen families who used to fish in the tank, and the nature lovers.
In the name of converting the huge Bonal tank in Surpur taluk into a bird sanctuary, the State Government has hit hard on the nearly 300 fishermen families by banning them from fishing in the tank. These families were dependent on the Bonal tank for their catch till date.
However, this measure has made the nature lovers happy. They feel that the State government has taken the right decision, which was aimed at declaring the Bonal tank as a ‘birds sanctuary’.
A few miles drive from the Wagangera Fort in Surpur taluk will take you to this unique 'bird sanctuary' called as the Bonal tank. The tank was built by Pam Naik in the 17th century.
Later Captain Meadows Taylor, who was a representative of the British at Surpur, increased the capacity of the tank to 1,600 acres with an average depth of 12 feet.
Built mainly for conservation of water in this drought prone district, this huge tank does not dry up even during the summers, when the temperatures soar up to 47 degree Celsius.
Moreover, the perennial nature of the tank and the availability of food throughout the year, has made it a favourite nestling place for migratory birds, as well as a fishing ground. However, since the past five years, the State government has been dithering over declaring it as a bird sanctuary.
Of the 12 big tanks in Surpur taluk identified for fishing, Bonal is the biggest, while the others are relatively small. In 1998, towards declaring Bonal tank as a bird sanctuary, the State government had transferred this tank from the Fisheries Department to the Forest Department.
Consequently, the Forest Department banned the nearly 300 fishermen families from fishing in the it. This is causing a lot of problems for these fishermen families as they do not own any land for agriculture, and do not know any other work.
Their appeals to be permitted to fish in Bonal tank with the Forest Department has fallen on deaf years.
Fishermen Association President Laxman Bhovi has stated that the Bonal tank is not worth to be declared as a bird sanctuary, and that fishing should be allowed there.
Concerned over the local people hunting for birds at Bonal tank, some local activists and bird lovers had approached the Forest Department to take over the tank, and declare it as a bird sanctuary.
However, since the past many years, officials of the Forest Department have been knocking on the doors of the Irrigation Department to convert the tank into a bird sanctuary, on the lines of the famous Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary near Mysore.
Though Bonal tank is almost thrice the size of Ranganthittu and attracts more species of birds, the tank did not get adequate attention from the State government.
Some of the rare birds that visit the tank regularly are the Large Egret, Purple Heron, Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, White Necked Stork, White Ibis, Black Ibis, Brahminy Duck, Bar Headed Goose, Pintail, Common Teal, Tede, Pochard, Indian Shag, Snake Bird, Common Pochard, Indian Moorhen, Purple Moorhen, Coot, Large Cormorant, and Little Cormorant.