Bird lovers fear JICA-sanctioned parking lot will disrupt breeding spot

Great Parrotbill at Hilley
Tue, Jun 11, 2019

Minister petitioned to save habitat of Great Parrotbill at Hilley

The Sikkim Ornithological Society, Save Sikkim and other environmental organisations of Sikkim on Monday submitted a representation to Power minister Mingma Norbu Sherpa seeking shifting the proposed parking lot project at Hilley, west district.
Hilley is one of the gateways to Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary under Daramdin constituency. It is one of the most appropriate locations in the world to see Great Parrotbill.
Therefore, to protect the habitat of this special bird, the construction of the parking lot at Hilley must be shifted to another location with least disturbance, submitted the organisations to Sherpa at his office here.
Sherpa is the also Daramdin MLA.
“The Power minister told us that he is even more concerned about the issue. He thanked the organisations for taking up the matter. He assured to place the representation personally to the Forest minister,” said Sikkim Ornithological Society (SOS) president Nosang M. Limboo.
“This is an effort to safeguard the pristine habitat of Great Parrotbill which is recorded in Hilley and Dzuluk in Sikkim. We had raised this issue before also and hope the concerned department will support us in this cause now. We also look forward to present a similar letter of request to the Forest minister also very soon,” said the SOS president.
The Great Parrotbill (Conostoma aemodium) is a bird species of the Sylviidae (Old World warbler) family.
According to Nosang, a concrete building has been proposed in the parking lot project replacing the bamboo jungle in the area. The parking lot project is under the JICA project, he said.
“The whole area has to be cleared and the bamboos have to be removed for the project. The bamboo thicket is the bird habitat where the birds come to breed and search for food. The concrete construction will damage the breeding spot. The other disturbance is that once the parking lot is constructed, the movement and breeding of the bird will be disturbed. Vehicular movement will be a huge disturbance,” said Nosang.
“Disturbing the habitat means a decrease in the bird population which already is low. We must focus on increasing the population of such a special bird like Great Parrotbill,” said the SOS president.
According to the organisations, the location for the parking lot at Hilley had been made during the previous SDF government.
The SOS said it has been highlighting environmental concerns on many such ‘unwanted constructions’ proposed and commissioned during the previous government, especially in pristine forest areas like Sidekyong Tulku Bird Park at Rabdentse. The SOS is supported by the local youths of the area who are promoting ecotourism in the area in this cause, said the organisation.

Area: 7096 Sq Km
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
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