Winged beauties and the city: Butterfly park for Chandigarh

Last Updated: Monday, September 7, 2009 - 14:14

Chandigarh: It promises to be an incredible sight - winged beauties of 100 species, collected from across the world, fluttering around on the outskirts of Chandigarh!

For, this city is set to house India`s second butterfly park.
The park will be established in the coming months in the green belt area in Sector 26 of this union territory (UT) as per international standards.

Ishwar Singh, chief conservator of forests, Chandigarh, said: "This world class butterfly park will be established in an area of around 7.5 acres. This will be the country`s second butterfly park as there is another such park in Bangalore."

"We had written to the entomology department of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) in Ludhiana and they are ready to provide us consultancy services," Singh said.

The country`s first butterfly park is at Bannerghatta national park in Bangalore, Karnataka.

The butterfly park project in Chandigarh that was proposed earlier this year ran into rough weather, as two petitions challenging it were filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In the petition it was alleged that to establish this park, the union territory would destroy a 225-year-old heritage water body spread over 2.5 acres and surrounded by thick vegetation and a decades-old fruit nursery.

However, the petitions were disposed of later by the court bench.

"The life cycle of a butterfly is 30 to 40 days. Our aim is to include more than 100 species of butterflies that we will bring from all across the world. This is to make sure that at least 40-50 varieties of butterflies will remain available in the park at all times," Singh said.

Elaborating about the park he said: "This park will be developed under controlled conditions that will provide a congenial environment for butterflies to breed throughout the year. Specific host plants will be planted in the park to attract butterflies."

Over 80 species of butterflies are found in Chandigarh. The smallest butterfly, Freyeria Putli, with a wing size of 16 mm to 18 mm, is also found here and can be seen flying very slowly near thick grass.

Virinder Walia, a professor in the department of Zoology at Panjab University (PU) and a consultant in this project, said: "Butterflies are very restless creatures and fast-fliers; they keep on chasing each other. We have to understand that they are not like other insects and we have to look after them for the entire 365 days."

He said the administration has to engage the services of various scientists and research scholars to make the project successful.

Sources in the administration said that a budget of over Rs.7 million (Rs. 70 lakh) has been proposed for the project.

"As per the normal reproduction cycle of butterflies, this (August-September) is the most conducive time of the year for them to lay eggs. We have to plant plenty of host trees like cassia siamea and chukrasia tabularis to attract them," said Walia, who has also written a book on butterflies, "Butterflies of North-West India".

Cassia siamea is an ornamental tree with colourful flowers. Butterflies are attracted towards the colour and nectar of its flowers. Chukrasia has no flowers but its dense shade is the best place for butterflies to take shelter.

Even the city-based environmentalists are quite enthused with the idea of the park.

"We are quite enthusiastic about the project as this initiative of the administration will bring the dwellers of this city closer to nature," said Rohit Ruhella, an environmentalist based here.

IANS



First Published: Monday, September 7, 2009 - 14:14

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