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11,000 Birds Injured in Kite Flying Get A New Lease Of Life in Gujarat

Gujarat government’s ‘Karuna Abhiyan’ saved more than 11,000 wounded birds in a span of 10 days. The initiative was started in 2017 to provide prompt treatment to injured birds and animals, especially during the Uttrayan festival. This year, under this initiative, the government had set up more than 800 collection and treatment centres for birds.
Indian Masterminds Stories

In Gujarat, a beautiful initiative for saving birds, named ‘Karuna Abhiyan’, managed to save more than 11,000 wounded birds in just a span of 10 days. And the number is growing. Karuna Abhiyan is a sensitive initiative of the state government started in 2017 for providing treatment to injured birds and animals. Hundreds of voluntary organisations have joined hands to support the state government in this noble cause.

This year, the government set up more than 800 collection and treatment centre for birds, where the department of animal husbandry made necessary arrangements for providing medical care to the birds and animals who get injured in kite flying during the festival of Uttarayan. Indian Masterminds interacted with IAS officer Arun Kumar Solanki, Additional Chief Secretary of Forest and Environment Department (F&E D), Gujarat, and 1996-batch IFS officer SK Srivastava, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Wildlife, Gujarat, to know about this initiative in detail.

UTTARAYAN AND BIRDS

The festival of Uttarayan, also known as Makar Sankranti, is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm on 14 January every year in Gujarat. The craze of flying kites is so high that millions of enthusiasts fill the sky with kites of all shapes, sizes, hues and colours. People of all ages fly kites from dawn to dusk. Crowded rooftops, fun-loving rivalry to outdo each other in kite flying skills, and delicious traditional Gujarati feasts, are the hallmarks of the day.

The neighborhoods are filled with screams of “Kaipo Chhe” (cut down) and “Lapet” (wrap the thread) throughout the day.But, unfortunately, Uttarayan is not only about fun, food and frolic; it has a darker side also to it. It brings along with it the dark red color of death of thousands of innocent birds. Suddenly, the sky turns into a battlefield of kite vs kite and strings start severing wings. Human beings, in their ecstasy of joy, hijack the territory of these feathered souls for almost a week and the innocent birds become the victims of bloodshed, pain and suffering in their own home and space. The killer manja is the main culprit as the razor-sharp thread cuts the birds’ wings like a sharp knife.

Additional Chief Secretary F&E D, Mr. Arun Kumar Solanki, said to Indian Masterminds, “Karuna Abhiyan is an effort to save such injured birds. Previously it was being undertaken by individual efforts of various NGOs. But since 2017, it is being done jointly by the forest and animal husbandry departments.” The Karuna Abhiyan runs from Jan 10 to Jan 20 every year.

HOW IT WORKS

The animal husbandry department mainly provides treatment at their hospitals. Rest is taken care by the forest department. The forest department, along with NGOs and volunteers, creates collection centres all over the state where any injured bird can be reported or deposited.

Talking with Indian Masterminds, Addl PCCF Wildlife, Mr. SK Srivastava, said, “Earlier, the treatment of birds was done in the NGO or forest department premises. But now, we have centers in all the hospitals of animal husbandry department. We collect the birds and take them to these hospitals. The work of bird collection is not only done by the forest department, but many NGOs and volunteers are involved also.”

Earlier this campaign was being run in only two cities. But now, it is being run in the entire state. Animal husbandry hospitals have been declared as treatment centers in every district. This year alone, 800 centers for collection and treatment were set up. The biggest reason for bird injuries is the Chinese manja. To stop its usage, the forest department works closely with the police to confiscate Chinese manja wherever it is found.

THE LOGISTICS

This year, 810 centres were set up. And around 548 doctors and 6615 volunteers are providing their services. So far,12305 birds have been treated with more than 92% success rate. The number will increase in the coming days.

From 2017 to 17th Jan 2022, the forest department has treated 67650 birds and released 62408 birds alive. Only 5242 birds died. Thus, the success rate of saving birds is 92.25 percent, which is huge.

HELPLINE NUMBER

Mr. SK Srivastava informed that “the government has issued a helpline number for collecting the injured birds and for information about the treatment centers. The details of all the centers have been made public by putting this helpline number on Google Map. Anyone can use WhatsApp and type ‘Karuna’ on the number 8320002000. Then a link opens, where all the centers of the entire state are visible. As soon as you click on the icon of any of the centers, you will see the helpline number there. You can report an injured bird there, and volunteer will come and take it to the centre or you can take it to the centre yourself after knowing the exact location.”

After reaching the collection center, the bird will either get treatment there itself or will be taken to the nearest veterinary hospital.

THE PROCESS

From this year, a new element was added to the process of reporting an injured bird. All the centres were put on an online map and the link of this map was made easily available through the following methods.

1. Whatsapp “Karuna”on 8320002000

2. Click on link https://bit.ly/karunaabhiyan

3. Scan QR Code (on pamphlets/posters)

Apart from treating birds, the forest department, along with the police, raids shops where Chinese manja is sold and seizes them. This year, more than 115kgs of chinese manja has been seized till date.


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