The Challenges Ahead To Preserve The Turtle Of Kalyansagar::By:Pradip Sarkar
 

The Challenges Ahead To Preserve The Turtle Of Kalyansagar 

By:Pradip Sarkar 

K

alyansagar is located on the eastern side of the Mata Tripura  Sundari  Temple of  Matabari, Udaipur. It is   3 km away  from Udaipur town. The Mata Tripura Sundari  Temple was constructed by Maharaja Dhanya Manikya in 1501 AD.  A big lake named Kalyansagar is just down to the Hillock at the back side of the temple. The area of the Kalyansagar is 2.752 acre. Kalyansagar  is  famous for a  very rare species of turtle called  Aspideretes nigricans . . It is commonly known as  black shell turtle.  Aspideretes nigricans is its scientific name. Kalyansagar is frequently  in news for the last 10 years not for a good reasons. It attracts attention of the people for the wrong reasons. The normal natural ecosystem of the 400 years old lake has been disturbed very recently due to the construction of the cemented wall at the four  sides of the lake. This has ruined the lake as per report of the scientific community. This  is an  example of  unplanned development activities. Due to unplanned project  the ecosystem is in danger. Before  studying the reasons for the untimely death of tortoise we should know about the characteristics of turtles. 

CHARACTERISTICS OF TURTLES:

(1) It is a cold blooded animal. It means  it can change its temperature according to the temperature of the surrounding.

(2) It is a omnivorous  animal. It takes both plant  materials and  meat. 

(3) It lays its egg in the land area ( sandy soil)

(4) It has to come to the surface of water for taking air.

(5)  It has no teeth

(6)  It shows sexual dimorphism.

(7)  Turtles are reptiles

(8)  Turtles can hide their heads inside their shells when attacked by predators

(9)  Turtles are notoriously slow movers

(10)   Many turtle species are endangered

(11)  Turtles also have a lower shell called a ‘plastron’

(12) Turtles have a hard shell that protects them like a shield, this upper shell is called a ‘carapace’.

Tripura  pollution Control Board  has conducted a survey about the death of turtle  in the kalyansagar  lake on  March 22, 2003  by a team of  Scientists and Engineers.

 FOLLOWING ARE THE MAIN OBSERVATION OF TSPCB:

(1) After the construction of cemented  embankment in all the four sides of Kalyansagar  natural habitat available for the tortoise has been minimized drastically. In simple word  the ecosystem has been destroyed due to the cemented wall of the lake.

(2)  Now there is no space for the tortoises  for taking rest and to lay eggs. This has drastically effected the ecosystem of the pond. The normal reproduction of the turtle  has been disturbed  by the cemented wall.

(3) Turtle   is an amphibian. It needs  sandy soil for laying eggs.

(4) The design and the location of the hatchery which was constructed as an artificial  breeding ground for the turtle  is not serving its purposes. The  artificial  breeding ground for the turtle  has been a great failure. It is not used by the turtle for breeding purposes.

(5) The breeding ground including the tunnel is full of rubbish (solid waste ) and hard soil. It is  not at all sandy. So, the tortoise is not using the breeding ground for the purpose of laying eggs.

(6)  Due to the construction of concrete walls the  temperature of the water of the  lake is very high during day time. At such a  period the to turtle  want to take rest  at some shady cool place. But  there is no place for taking rest because the walls are very steep. This is effecting the  normal health of the tortoise.

(7) Almost  all the embankments of Kalyansagar  is  without any tree. During construction of rest house and other works most of the trees were cut down. No greenery is available in and around Kalyansagar. The ecosystem of the lake has been destroyed due to clearing of the trees  by some unplanned  developmental works.

(8) The four cemented  wall of the kalyansagar  have been constructed at right angle . As a result tortoise are not being able to take rest in the periphery of Kalyansagar. This construction  is disturbing the ecological balance of Kalyansagar including the natural habitat.

(9) Carrying of  plastic bags are banned in and around Matarbari Temple area since 1998  even before the banning order issued by TSPCB for the entire State of Tripura on 21st January , 2002. But visitors, tourists, pilgrims and devotees are throwing plastic carry bags every day into the Kalyansagar. This  has created pollution of water of  the lake.  The bed of the lake is now full  of plastics carry bags. As a result of this plastic pollution the water sucking capacity of the lake has been greatly reduced. This has a  very bad effect on the health of the fishes , tortoise  and other aquatic organisms of the lake.

(10)  All the four embankments are now  black topped. which provide free movement of vehicles of all kinds around the pond during the whole days. The sound produced due to  the movement of vehicles  disturbs the natural living condition of the living organisms of the lake.

(11) Turtles are feed with Muri and biscuits by the visitors and devotees. No extra food is not provided to turtles and fishes. This  quantity of food is not sufficient for the fishes and turtles. The  possibility of death of turtles  due to lack of food cannot be ruled out.

(12) People from the Matabari village   take bath in the lake. They also wash their clothes in the lake. This mindless activity is also polluting the water of kalyansagar. 

(13) There is no population survey on tortoise and fish in Kalyansagar.  As a result it cannot be ascertained what quantity of additional food is to be supplied in the lake so that fishes and tortoise can survive  and do not die due to lack of food.

(14) Muri , biscuits etc  are not the natural  food of turtle  and fishes .  These are not the balanced diet. The food chain and food web of the kalyansagar might have been changed  due to the alteration of the   ecosystem of the lake due to the construction of the cemented walls around  it.

(15) Cafetoria in the North embankment is no doubt serving people with its delicious dishes and some time not so delicious dishes. There is no  denying of the fact that it is dumping its solid waste materials in breeding ground of the lake. So it is also responsible for creating pollution. The  Pantha Niwas (hotel)  at north west corner have been constructed. It is also responsible for pollution.

T

he North-Eastern zone of India is rich in chelonians  diversity with 15 species. Populations of these species have drastically declined during the past last few decades as a result of direct and indirect human intervention and habitat destruction.  This is due to unplanned growth and development, pressure of population and human greed. Very little  or no scientific approach had been undertaken for study or conservation of tortoise and turtle in the state of Tripura. Chelonians are found mainly in water logged areas, rivers and hills. Indiscriminate killing of turtles and tortoise for human consumption had made the population almost extinct. At present eight species of tortoise and turtles are found in Tripura. One of the rarest species of turtle called Aspideretes nigricans is found at kalyansagar .A sizable population of fresh water turtles Aspideretes nigricans are  found restricted in the  Kalyansagar of Matabari. The turtles are protected by the temple authority and administration. The  Kalyansagar  has only single species of turtle  namely Aspideretes nigricans . It is commonly known as  black shell turtle. This turtle population is facing the  threat of extinction  due to stress and destruction of the natural condition of the Kalyansagar. .  The very confined distribution, reduction of potential nesting grounds, and egg predation are major threats to its survival.  Fungal infection is also suspected to be a further stress.  These are the  threats to the  survival of the  turtle at Kalyansagar.

 FEW SUGGESTION FOR PRESERVATION  OF TURTLE AT KALYANSAGAR:

(1) Scientific study and research is to conducted  to ascertain the actual  reason of death of many turtle in Kalyansagar

(2) Population census of the turtle is to be conducted for ascertaining  the  actual  size of population of turtle in the pond.

(3) Original shape and size of the pond should be  restored.

(4) Human encroachment  in the pond should be stopped.

(5) Washing of clothe in the pond should be banned.

(6) The metalled  road  around the road should be dismantled  so that no vehicle can move around the pond to disturb the natural habitat  of the pond.

(7)  More awareness should be generated among the people about the turtle.

(8) A master plan should be prepared to preserve the biodiversity of the kalyansagar.

(9)  Use of plastics bags should be prohibited in the pond area at any cost.

In the recent years, there is a trend of death of the turtle in the pond. No valid reason for the death of the turtle could be sorted out. 

This unnatural death of turtle in the kalyansagar has generated attention of the common people. Many educated people has come forward to press hard the authority to take necessary step to preserve the turtle of kalyansagar. But the saddest part of the news is that till today nothing substantial has been done to preserve this rare species of turtle. The state is all-powerful. It can do the most difficult and wonderful task with its different organs. The government machineries should be used to implement all the necessary things to restore the biodiversity of kalyansagar. Otherwise the future generation will have to  satisfy  themselves by seeing the photo of turtle. All turtle will be become the thing of past like the dodo bird. This is not a fine imagination.  Let us all work hard to so that such a wild dream of turtle minus kalyansagar never comes in future. Let us think positively and work in a positive direction.   Tripura State Pollution control board has come to an objective conclusion that the construction of the cemented wall around the four sides of the lake is the main culprit for the premature death of so many tortoises. The cemented wall is to be removed to restore the natural ecosystem of the lake.

About The Author: Pradip Sarkar is an Mechanical Engineer . He is a member of Tripura Civil Service  He  writes about history,  sociology,  current affairs etc  etc.  Quizzing  is  his   hobby. You can contact him at pradipsarkar169@gmail.com

NB:All the views expressed here are the personal opinion of the author.

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