Mainpuri: Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh, which is home to the largest Sarus crane population in the country, will soon be developed as a Sarus circuit as part of promoting eco-tourism.
The circuit, which will have over a dozen wetlands and a bird sanctuary, is ready and will be thrown open to the public once the Covid restrictions are lifted, said a state government official.
According to Chief Development Officer (CDO), Mainpuri, Eesha Priya, "It is an eco-tourism project and also a step towards conservation branding. It will help conserve Sarus and give eco-tourists a reason to visit Mainpuri."
The first phase of the three-round Sarus census had counted over 2,866 Sarus in Mainpuri in September last year.
The circuit will connect two blocks of Mainpuri, Kishni and Karhal, and spread over 676 hectares, including around 526 hectares of Saman bird sanctuary which is also a Ramsar site (a wetland with international recognition).
About a dozen wetlands which lie outside Saman but are part of the circuit cover over 152 hectares.
"If you enter Karhal, which has Lucknow-Agra Expressway passing through it, you will see three of these wetlands close to each other," said the official.
Several wetlands in Kishni and Karhal have been lost due to encroachment, illegal cultivation and other factors over a period of time. Some of the wetlands in the past had been given away as 'patta' to people. Mainpuri is also a place of natural depression.
Sarus and other migratory birds used to flock to these wetlands.
Conservationists cite habitat destruction as the biggest threat to the population of Sarus which is known to stay at its habitat for the entire lifetime till it is forced to leave.
Sarus began returning to these sites in Mainpuri, after the district administration started reviving and digging the lost wetlands in December last year.
The CDO said, "We did not use JCB to dig the machines but it was done under MNREGS, involving local labourers, who would also take pride in the kind of work they are doing."
Sarus could be seen at these wetlands at present. About a dozen of these wetlands are connected to the web of canals and have enough water to support the population of Sarus and other migratory birds.
"We are making gram pradhans own it up. They would make watch towers on the circuit for the visitors. We are trying to make it a community project," she said.
The point to make the project also economically beneficial for the locals would, however, come up for consideration only when the tourists start coming and footfalls increase.
Mainpuri , incidentally, is the parliamentary constituency for Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.