Updated: Aug 15, 2021
On World Environment Day, I happened to be in the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH). Met their director, Ms. Anuradha Dalmia, and she narrated a wonderful story.
NIVH shares its boundary with the Presidential Estate on Rajpur Road, and both properties together have a huge Litchi orchard. The orchards were, as is usually the case in Dehra Dun, given away every year on contract to garden keepers, who save the fruit from the flying foxes, the bats, collect the fruit and sell it. The garden keepers raised a ruckus every night trying to scare away the bats, which disturbed the blind inmates no end. When some complained, the garden keepers decided to use lights. But this would scare other birds too and the director did not allow this. Then the garden keepers, without seeking due permission, began to use chemical smoke to scare away the bats.
Last year, Ms. Dalmia recounted, she woke up to find that not a single bird was chirping. After making enquiries, she realized that the garden keepers had been using smoke that had scared the birds away. “That Monsoon”, she said, “Our entire grounds were littered with insect larvae. We just couldn’t walk on the pathways!” There were just so many insects that basket loads had to be collected and thrown into ditches. The frightened birds had not fed on them. That spring, they had no butterflies. Very soon, the fruits began to dwindle too.
Now, they intend not to give their orchard to any human garden keepers. They are extending an open invitation to birds, monkeys and butterflies…