Express News Service

GUNTUR: Uppalapadu, a small village in Pedakakani mandal of Guntur revenue division with a population of 6,175, has been waiting for provision of safe drinking water to their village for the past two years. The only source of drinking and irrigation water to the village was the local pond, which became a haven for migratory birds. The village shot into fame with the arrival of nearly 30,000 birds of 25 different species every year for the past 50 years for breeding purpose.

Spot-billed pelicans, openbill storks, white ibises, glossy ibises, coots, little cormorants, spot-billed ducks and others migrate from Australia, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan for breeding purpose every year. These birds arrive between September and March. 

In the initial days of the arrival of migratory birds, it was the villagers who played a key role in facilitating the birds by providing a happy nesting in the nine-acre pond in the village, for the birds to survive. The pond that is used for drinking and irrigation purposes is now providing refuge to many species of birds including endangered species of birds. 

Speaking to TNIE, Uppalapadu Bird Sanctuary Development Committee Chairman P Anil said the villagers have been seeking government’s help to provide safe drinking water to them. Responding to the issue, the officials said that water should be supplied from the water plant of Guntur Municipal Corporation (GMC). “As per the number of households in the village, the water charges of GMC per month comes to `10 lakh. The GMC charges six months’ advance payment which totals to `60 lakh. However, Uppalapadu gram panchayat cannot afford to pay that much. So, the water problem of the villagers remained unsolved,’’ said Guntur Water Supply and Sanitation Department executive engineer Md Abdul.

Apart from drinking water issue, villagers said that pond which is being used by the birds at present is inadequate to accommodate large number of birds. The most important requirement for the visiting birds is more space for perching, nesting and breeding activities. 

“Due to the insufficient food in the pond, the birds are travelling to Bapatla and Chirala sea shores and even to wetlands in Bengaluru in search of fish. Though we are providing fish in the pond, it’s insufficient for the birds. Hence, the committee is planning to launch development works worth `3.6 crore including extension of pond and establishing mounds considering the increasing population of birds, every year,’’ Anil said. 

The forest department is also planning to develop an Environmental Education Centre at the village to facilitate students who visit the sanctuary as part of their educational tours. 

Where the problem lies
The tourism department released `1 crore with which water pipelines were laid in the village for supply of drinking water through pipelines from Guntur city, which is just five kilometre away. However, the connection for supplying water from Guntur city is yet to be laid

Villagers welcome feathered friends
A native of Uppalapadu, Shyam Kumar said that it is because of these birds, their village has become famous and these birds are very special to them. They are a part of our village now. “We hope that this place gets developed and provide shelter for more birds. We also request the administration to solve our drinking water problem,’’ he added


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