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SOS 'Deepor Beel', Ramsar site wetland adjoining Guwahati cityLetter to the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, written by Azam Siddiqui
3 August 2006
Dear Sir/ Madam,
I have just come back from 'Deepor Beel' a Ramsar site wetland adjoining Guwahati city, my second visit in last three days. A herd of elephants having come down from the adjacent Rani reserve forest is camping in the Beel for the past 22 days. They have lost a calf which got trapped in the marshy land, and perhaps are mourning its death. Also this Beel provides a range of aquatic plants and grass which the elephants love, I believe the shrink of food on land is also perhaps one of the reasons that the elephants have not left this wetland for 22 days now.
A local tribal wildlife enthusiast, Lakhan Teron who has been observing the elephants from the day they came down, says that some young elephants in that herd seemed to be very weak, perhaps they need proper nutrituion, and its not a healthy sign for the youngs ones to stay 24X7 in water for so many days.
Also this Deepor Beel which is a protected site is now being used as a solid waste dumping ground by the municipal authorities. Water is slowly getting poisoned. Greed of land is drawing in real estate builders encroaching more and more areas of this wetland....there are so many problems for this poor site. The stench from the soild waste dump is creating a bad air all throughout the wetland.
The trains that are allowed to pass at a slow speed when they cross the Deepor Beel simply ignore the speed restrictions. I myself saw many passenger- and goods-trains exceeding about 50kmph speed.
Boatmen are free to access each and every inch of the Deepor Beel to fish. They in turn damage extensively the aquatic plants and their leaves which I feel is of serious concern.
Massive stone quarrying adjacent to the Deepor Beel have resulted in the forest cover being diminished making way for hamlets of labourers who are engaded in stone quarrying, hill cutting and road construction activities there.
I am afraid unless strict measures are taken up under directives from your organisation to the Central Government of India as well as the Assam state Government, it will not be long when the Deepor Beel will cease to exist.
With these sad words, and hoping that the Ramsar organisation does something positive at the earliest to save the dying Deepor Beel, I end my SOS.
Master Trainer in Animal Welfare
Animal Welfare Board of India
Member: People for Animals (PFA-India), PETA India
Link: Guwahati's wetland turned into garbage dump
Link: The Ramsar Convention On Wetlands