Project to create local guides for Harike fails to take off

Bathinda Two years after the Punjab Wildlife Department proposed a plan to use members of the rural community as guides to promote tourism at Harike Wetland and Bird Sanctuary, the ambitious project has failed to take off .

The then Minister of Tourism, Navjot Singh Sidhu, had raised the idea of ​​making Harike an important tourist destination of Punjab, while bludgeoning a tourist circuit including the Golden Temple and the historic Saragarhi Gurdwara in Ferozepur.

Ferozepur Divisional Forestry Officer (Wildlife) Nalin Yadav said authorities were unable to find suitable people for the task. He said a team of state wildlife officials had been formed in August this year as master trainers by professionals from Karnataka, but things had not gone further.

“A person with a basic understanding of the details, including the scientific names of flora and fauna, can speak to bird watchers. The department is ready for capacity building, but no young people in or around Harike have been found suitable for the job, ”Yadav added.

Spread over 4,100 hectares on the Ferozepur-Tarn Taran border, Harike is a rare biodiversity hotspot in Punjab that attracts thousands of birds from overseas and other Indian states. The wetland is located at the confluence of the Sutlej and Beas rivers, with the shrine where the Majha, Malwa and Doaba regions of Punjab meet.

Sources said that since it attracts bird watchers every year, an organized group of well-trained guides could help improve the region’s economy and ensure better protection for the region.

“Harike has immense potential for ecotourism, but lacks promotion plans. In June 2018, then Tourism Minister Sidhu (now President of the Punjab Congress) drew up a plan to harness the tourism potential of the underdeveloped site. It has been proposed that Harike be seen as a link between the adjacent major religious site of Amritsar with the international border and the historic sites of Ferozepur. The proposal, however, has not seen coordinated efforts to make it work, ”said a forestry department official.

Official sources said the wetland faces problems including encroachment, untreated industrial effluent drainage and toxic from cities. In addition to sheltering thousands of local migratory and migratory populations of birds, it is also a natural habitat for several species of turtles, snakes and fish.

Ferozepur City Congressman Parminder Singh Pinky said efforts were being made to attract visitors to the memorial Ferozepur district, where legendary freedom fighters Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were cremated .

“An infrastructure is being created in Ferozepur for the convenience of tourists in the historic gurdwara built in memory of 21 Sikh soldiers from the Battle of Saragarhi fought during the British period in 1897. The soldiers’ retirement ceremony at the Indo border Pakistani in Hussaniwala is also being promoted as a tourist staple, ”said Pinky, who has been instrumental in the renovation of these projects.

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