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Harike Wetland

Harike Wetland

Harike is the biggest wetland in its form in northern India. It is positioned about 55 km towards south of the city of Amritsar, the shallow reservoir was created in 1953. It sprawls over an area of 285.1 sq km and shares its land with the four districts of Amritsar, Firozpur, Kapurthala and Jalandhar of Punjab.

The perennial rivers Sutlej and Beas merge into Harike. Then an irrigation barrage was built, in 1950. A manmade lake, which is not only renews the groundwater but also supplies water and irrigates to the land of Punjab and Rajasthan. A huge concentration of migratory waterfowls is found in the lake. In the whole wetland, only 10.8 sq km is the waterlogged area. The lakes are spread over 3.6 sq km whereas 0.5 sq km has been covered by ox bow lakes and cut off meanders and a considerable area of about 198.6 sq km is being used for agriculture. In 1982, Harike wetland was officially declared with an area of about 41 sq kms.

It got international importance with its enlistment in Ramsar sites in the year 1990. Then again, the century area was extended from 41 sq km to 86 sq km, in the year 1992. The land was under research for raising the number of birds and in 1994, it became a part of publication by WWF-India.

The wetland inhabits a number of rare and jeopardized faunal species, such as testudine, turtle and the smooth Indian otter. One can also witness diving ducks, scaup duck, falcated teal, whiteheaded stifftailed duck, spot jungle cat, mongoose, jackal and Indian wild boar —rarely seen elsewhere in India—can be spotted here.

The wetland consists of rich vegetation such as Eichhornia crassipes, Azolla sp, lotus, Ipomoea aquatica, Najas, Hydrilla, Ceratophyllum, Potamogeton, Vallisneria, Charales, and much more. There are 26 species of fish that are recorded including Rohu, Catla, Puntius, Cirrhina Channa, Mystus, Notopterus ornata, Cyprinus, and Ambassis ranga. Recently, Indus dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor), which was supposed to have become extinct in India after 1930 was also spotted in the Beas River in Harike wetland area.

The variety of fauna includes Cotton Pygmy Goose, Tifted Duck, Yellow crowned Woodpecker, Yellow eyed Pigeon, Watercock, Pallass Gull, Brown headed Gull , Black headed Gull, Yellow legged Gull, Indian Skimmer, White winged Tern, White rumped Vulture, Hen Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Eurasian Hobby, Horned Grebe, Black necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, White browed Fantail, Brown Shrike, Common Woodshrike, White tailed Stonechat, White crowned Penduline Tit, Rufous vented Prinia, Striated Grassbird, Cettis Bush Warbler, the Sulphur bellied Warbler and Diving duck…to name a few.

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