Sarsai Nawar Jheel of Uttar Pradesh – History, Access, Topography, Geology, Hydrology, Flora, Wildlife and Restoration Plans

Sarsai Nawar Jheel is a produced area located in Sarsai Nawar, Etawah District, Uttar Pradesh. The place is 329 kilometers away from the south of the national capital New Delhi. 

Sarsai Nawar Wetland is a bird sanctuary and has been a Ramsar Site since 2009. A Ramsar Site is a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Conventions. Uttar Pradesh alone has a Nine Ramsar Site Wetland, including the Sarsai Nawar Wetland. 

History of the Place 

Sarsai Nawar is a permanent marsh. The name of the lake is derived from the Sarus (Sarsai from Sarus Crane and Nawar meaning shallow wetland; Wetland for the Sarus Crane)–a large non-migratory crane. It was officially named Sarsai Nawar Jheel and is also called Sarsai Nawar Wetland.  

Sarsai Bird Sanctuary was designated as a Ramsar Site on September 19, 2019. The government paid attention to the sanctuary to protect the natural habitats, including the conserving waterbirds, notably the Sarus Crane. 

Access to the Wetland 

Sarsai Nawar fills up during the monsoon. An ancient Shiva temple adjoins the lake and is visited by thousands of pilgrims each year, particularly during the Shivaratri festival in the first week of March.  

Sarsai Nawar Wetland is well connected to the Sarsai Road for road transport. This is 300 kilometers away from New Delhi. The Agra Lucknow Expressway goes to Takha Tehsil bus stand in Sarsai Nawar UPSRTC Uttar Pradesh (Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation) Services.  

Unfortunately, the Sarsai Nawar Wetlands has no railway station. But, the nearest station is at Etawah Junction Railway Station and Ekdil. For airport transport, the Saifai Airstrip is 20 km from the village. 

Topography of Area 

Sarai Nawar wetland is around 161.3 hectares. The wetland is typical of the Indo-Gangetic plains and receives most of its water from monsoon rains. This is one of the important agricultural regions of the world.   

Geology of Area 

According to the geographical coordinate system, this place is located at 26°58′00″N 79°14′48″E. 

The geological formation of the state is characterized by rock formations ranging in age from the Archean (the Bundelkhand Graniticgneisses) to the Recent (the Ganga alluvium). The dominant soil landscapes, representing the northern plains, constitute gently to very gently sloping lands. In some areas, the soil is highly calcareous. The soils, in general, are neutral in reaction and have moderate clay and low organic carbon content.   

Hydrology of the Land 

This familiar wetland of the Indo-Gangetic floodplain is fed by precipitation run-off from the southwest monsoon rains. Farming practices across the Sarsai Nawar Site play an important role in strengthening the waterbird habitats.  

Wet tropical forests are situated in areas that receive an annual rainfall of 100 to 150 centimeters. A special feature is that deciduous trees of uneven shapes and sizes are to be found in elevated areas.  

In contrast, the low-lying areas have a significant presence of bamboo, creepers, and climbers as also cane together with green bushes.    

Flora Found 

Sarsai Nawar wetland is unusual in that the principal vegetation is Cyperus rotundus and there is no developing vegetation. Other vegetation includes several species of grasses and water lilies.  

The lake has a decent population of the Flap-shell Turtle Lissemys punctata, and many families of the Common Mongoose Herpestes javanicus live immediately around the lake.  

Typical characteristic species of wetland ecosystem include hydrophytes such as Cyperus, Azolla, Nymphaea, Typha, Potamogoton, Wolffia, Phragmites, Eichhornia, and so on.  

Then tree species include species of Ficus, Tamarindus indica, Mimusops, Syzygium, Terminalia, Acacia, Mangifera. The trees that grow chiefly in these forests are sal, plum, google, Palash, mahua, amla, dhak, and Jamun. 

Wildlife Around 

A massive number of ducks, waders, and geese visit the lake in winter.  

Three types of resident species of storks around this wetlands site are as follows: 

  • Painted Mycteria leucocephala 
  • Woolly-necked or White-necked Ciconia episcopus 
  • Black-necked Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus 

These storks feed in the lake throughout the year. The wetland and surrounding trees used to have a resident population of over 150 Oriental White-backed Vultures Gyps bengalensis until 2000.  Every year, a minimum of 6,000 ducks and geese and 12,000 waders are in the lake during the winter season. The prominent species present in the wetland includes: 

  • Wigeon Anas penelope. 
  • Greylag Goose Anser anser. 
  • Northern Pintail Anas acuta. 
  • Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia. 

A special beneficiary is the vulnerable sarus crane (Grus Antigone), with a population of 400 individuals making up the largest flock in the region.  

Other threatened species presenting in the wetland area include the critically endangered white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and endangered woolly-necked stork (Ciconia episcopus).  

Almost more than forty thousand migratory birds from the northern arc arrive at the Sarsai Nawar wetland in winters.   

Islands in the Lake 

The wetland comprises two small lakes that attract the Circus Cranes. The wetland has a depth of about 2 meters, and three ponds can be found around the island in the wetland.   

This lake was surrounded by Yamuna River Basin. However, the management authorities have not mentioned further details about this island. 

Economic Evaluation of the Lake’s Resources 

During the festival season, many people visit this site. Tourism around this wetland plays a vital role. 

Mangrove forests around the lake are esteemed for producing fish and shellfish, livestock fodder, fuel, building materials, local medicine, honey, and beeswax, and extracting chemicals used in tanning leather, farming, and fisheries production have replaced many mangrove areas. 

Moreover, considerable socio-economic values like constant water supply, fisheries, fuelwood, medicinal plants, livestock grazing, agriculture, energy resource, wildlife resource, transport, recreation, and tourism are noteworthy.   

Deterioration of the Lake Environment 

Water scarcity, drought, and drainage are the major problems in the lake. These three reasons threaten the wetland’s ecological characteristics. After 2000, there was a drastic population decline for birds in the wetland. 

Restoration Plans 

Conservation of this wetland was a must for the survival of Sarus Cranes and many other migratory birds.  Hence, Uttar Pradesh plans to promote major wetlands by developing the following aspects: Tourism, Educational, Recreation, and Water Sports hubs.  

The development plan includes the construction of roads for easy accessibility, boarding, lodging facilities, recreational activities like boating and water sports, and online facilities. 

The sites will be developed under the central and the state governments (the central government will bear 60% of the cost, and the state government will pay the balance).