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Nelumbo Habitat Devastated in India

by KK Agrawal, Jaipur, India
Click images to enlarge
     

In the year 2000, I visited a spot near Dausa, India, where Nelumbo grows. The place is 65 km (40 miles) from Jaipur and I shot the picture of a woman washing clothes on the banks of the water body. There were many Nelumbo plants flowering at that time in the area where water collects from a nearby rain water dam.

I revisited the site in October of 2008. Surprisingly, I found more women washing clothes on the bank. But flowers were missing this time; only a few remained.  

 

On enquiry, I was told that the flowers had been plucked a day before to be sold in the market due to Deepawali Festival when flowers are offered to the Goddess Laxmi. This Hindu goddess of wealth is worshipped once a year at a big festival. The goddess is depicted poised on a huge lotus flower.

 


I visited the same place on October 2 of 2009. It was sad to see the environmental damage that made the area of Nelumbo shrink. Due to low rainfall in the catchment area, the dam was almost dry. There were small ponds around where water buffalo were lounging.  

 
Water is 10 feet (3 meters) below the washing area.

Many “carcasses” of Nelumbo were scattered around the place and many more were on the brink of death. There were no washer women on the bank this time but a few children were washing clothes in the place that is supposed to be the heart of the water body. 


Shallow pond slowly turning
into grazing ground


Children washing clothes in the
heart of the water body


Marshes drying up

Due to drought the crops have failed too. There was only 30% of the average rainfall this year. “In the coming months, the whole place will dry up,” was my observation. On the other side of this water body, I climbed up the mud embankment and saw that the dam's base was being cultivated with a wheat crop! It's tragic to see people and natural disaster devastate a habitat once so beautiful.
     
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