Sparrows disappearing from Assam

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Golaghat (Assam): Sparrows are disappearing from many parts of the country, and specially in Assam where electro-magnetic radiation from communication towers, use of leaded petrol in vehicles and overuse of pesticides in agriculture have been cited as some causes by scientists.

Chief scientist of the Regional Agriculture Research Centre in Lakhimpur, Prabal Saikia, said, "It is a fact that sparrows are becoming scarce throughout Assam – both house and tree sparrows."

Saikia said his research on house sparrows conducted in Guwahati and Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Sonitpur, Jorhat and Tinsukia districts found that they had been sighted in greater number in the Dikhowmukh area of Upper Assam along the banks of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries in Dikhow and Mitong.

"Comparatively less pollution, large number of thatched huts and general awareness about environment protection are responsible for the concentration of sparrows at Dikhowmukh," Saikia pointed out.

Environmental activist Hiren Dutta of conservation organisation "Nature`s Beckon", while conducting a survey in greater Dikhowmukh, found that a group of sparrows had set up a colony in the verandah of a house at Krisnasiga village.

Dutta has noted that in five nests eight couples of sparrows have been living happily despite the fact that there is a mobile tower in the vicinity. He said studies and surveys of sparrows were still continuing in the state and hence the number of sparrows in in Assam could not be ascertained.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests had set up a committee headed by the director of the Bombay Natural History Society, Dr Asad Rahmani, to study the possible impact of "radiation from communication towers on wildlife, birds and bees".

According to the report submitted by the committee, the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from mobile towers was responsible for the decreasing number of sparrows and bees.

Referring to a study conducted by Punjab University, the committee cited an instance in which 50 foetuses were spoilt within 5.30 minutes when exposed to EMR. Apart from that, the sparrows affected by the radiation lose procreative power and sense of direction.

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