Dipor Bil, also spelt Deepor Beel (Bil or Beel means "lake" in the local Assamese language), is located to the south-west of Guwahati city, in Kamrup district of Assam, India. It is a permanent freshwater lake, in a former channel of the Brahmaputra River, to the south of the main river. It is also called a wetland under the Ramsar Convention which has listed the lake in November 2002, as a Ramsar Site for undertaking conservation measures on the basis of its biological and environmental importance.
Considered as one of the largest Beels in the Brahmaputra valley of Western Assam, it is categorised as representative of the wetland type under the Burma Monsoon Forest biogeographic region. The Dipor Bil is reported to provide, directly or indirectly, its natural resources for the livelihood of fourteen indigenous villages (1,200 families) located in its precincts. Freshwater fish is a vital protein and source of income for these communities; the health of these people is stated to be directly dependendent on the health of this wetland ecosystem.
It is located 13 km South West of Guwahati on the National Highway (NH 31), on the Jalukbari-Khanapara bypass, alongside its north western boundary. PWD road skirts the northern fringe of the Rani and Garbhanga Reserve Forests on the south. The National Highway 37 borders the beel on the east and north-east and the Engineering College Road on the north. Also, minor roads and tracts exist in the vicinity of the beel. The Beel is about 5 km from the Guwahati Airport (GNB Int. Airport). Broad Gauge Railway line skirts the lake.
The hydrophytic vegetation of the beel has been classified, based on ecological adaptation, into the following categories with their floristic elements. These are:
- Aquatic vegetation like water hyacinth, aquatic grasses, water lilies and other submerged, emergent and floating vegetation are found during the summer season.
- In the dry areas, during winter, aquatic and semi-aquatic vegetation are seen.
- In deep open water area, marshy lands, mud flat, emergent vegetation, water hyacinth patches, net-grass land patches are reported.
- Migratory water-fowl, residential water-fowl and terrestrial avifauna are common in paddy field areas, dry grassland areas and scattered forest areas.
- A total of 18 genera of phytoplankton are reported from the core area of the Beel ecosystem out of which species of Oscilatoria and Microcystis are dominant.
The Beel is a natural habitat to many varieties of birds. 219 species of birds including more than 70 migratory species are reported in the beel area. The largest congregations of aquatic birds can be seen, particularly in winter, with a reported recorded count of 19,000 water birds in a day. Some of the globally threatened species of birds like Spotbilled Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis), Lesser Adjutant Stork (Leptoptilos javanicus), Baer’s Pochard (Aythya baeri), Pallas' Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), Greater Adjutant Stork (Leptoptilos dubius). Considering the richness of the bird varieties found in the beel, the Birdlife International has declared Deepor Beel as an Important Bird Area (IBA) with high priority for conservation.
Surveys have revealed 20 amphibian, 12 lizards, 18 snakes and 6 turtle and tortoise species in the beel. Over 50 commercially viable species of fish, belonging to 19 families have been identified, which supplies stock to other nearby wetlands and rivers. The beel provides food, acts as a spawning and nursery water body; some of the species breed within the beel.
Wild Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus), Leopard, Jungle Cat and the protected Barking Deer, Chinese Porcupine and Sambar are found in the beel. Herds of elephants are reported in the beel.
Deepor Beel Bird Sanctuary
covering an area of 414 ha within the larger spread of the beel to shelter several species of birds has been created by the Department of Forests, Assam, and shooting and bird-trapping are prohibited by law, but enforcement is reported to be inadequate. Over 120 species of birds have been listed in the sanctuary, which includes Kingfishers, Fishing eagles, Adjutant storks and abundant varieties of ducks. A watch tower has been erected on the bank of the beel for bird watching and security purpose.
Utility Of The Beel:
The inhabitants around the villages located in the periphery and the cathment of the beel use the beel for:
- As waterway for transporting the villagers of the Southern boundary to the N.H. 37
- Collect fodder for domestic cattle and collect aquatic seeds such as Giant water lily, Nymphea sp. etc.
- Raise Boro paddy - sown in December-January and harvested in April-May.