Guwahati: The second edition of the Rising Sun Water Fest-Revisiting Saraighat 2023 has sparked controversy as environmentalists and wetland conservationists express grave concerns about its potential harm to the biodiversity of Deepor Beel, a Ramsar site and critical habitat for migratory birds and aquatic fauna.
The festival, held at Deepor Beel, has drawn flak from critics who point to the disruptive impact of loud music, boat traffic, and large gatherings on the lake’s delicate ecological balance.
They argue that these activities pose a serious threat to the lake’s rich biodiversity, including migratory birds, aquatic plants, and animals.
Pramod Kalita, Secretary of the Deepor Beel Protection Forum, a group dedicated to the lake’s conservation, strongly opposes the festival, stating that it goes against the very principles of environmental protection.
He emphasizes the need to maintain the lake’s natural water flow, which is crucial for the survival of its diverse flora and fauna.
The closure of the Khanajan water gate, which connects Deepor Beel to the Brahmaputra River, has been a major point of contention.
Environmentalists maintain that this blockage has severely impacted water quality and disrupted the natural flow of water, leading to the destruction of aquatic plants and animals.
Furthermore, the festival’s timing coincides with the migration season of various bird species, raising concerns about the disturbance to their nesting grounds.
The lack of sightings of migratory birds during the festival is seen as evidence of the disruption caused by the event.
The Deepor Beel Protection Forum has urged the Assam government and the Indian Army, who are jointly organizing the festival, to reconsider their decision and prioritize the conservation of Deepor Beel’s fragile ecosystem.
They have proposed alternative venues for the water sports events and suggested measures to minimize the festival’s environmental impact.
The water sports festival, being held at Deepor Beel in Guwahati, is a tribute to the heroic Saraighat Battle, a pivotal historical moment in 1671, when the valiant Ahom forces led by Lachit Borphukan triumphed over the Mughals on the banks of Brahmaputra river.