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‘After Aarey, save Panje & Talawe wetlands as bird sanctuaries’

Greens send fresh mail to CM, environment minister


NatConnect Foundation

CIDCO, which is 26% partner of NMSEZ, has itself seem to have reversed its own plan to keep Panje as Holding Pond-1 for Dronagiri as a flood control mechanism and illegally built sluice gates on the inter tidal water flow, while NMSEZ has built a massive wall. These have to be undone and allow free flow of water into the wetland

MUMBAI, Sep 5 (Samachar Connect): Describing Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to save Aarey with a 600-acre reserve forest as a ‘good green precedent’, environmentalists have requested him to turn his attention to Panje and Talawe wetlands in Navi Mumbai and declare them as bird sanctuaries.

The proposals to declare Panje Wetland as a Bird Sanctuary and Talawe as Flamingo Sanctuary have been pending final orders from the government, the green groups said and requested the Chief Minister to immediately take necessary steps to prevent bio-diversity turning into another concrete jungle.

While the government has already promised to BNHS to accord the status of a bird sanctuary to Panje, CIDCO has sadly drawn a development plan, as part of Dronagiri node, to bury the wetland as Sectors 16 to 28, said B N Kumar, Director of NatConnect Foundation.

CIDCO, which is 26% partner of NMSEZ, has itself seem to have reversed its own plan to keep Panje as Holding Pond-1 for Dronagiri as a flood control mechanism and illegally built sluice gates on the inter tidal water flow, while NMSEZ has built a massive wall. These have to be undone and allow free flow of water into the wetland, Kumar said

The MCZMA has already submitted to the High Court that Panje comes under CRZ-1 and as such it has to be protected, Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, pointed out.

The High Court-appointed Mangrove Committee has also asked CIDCO and Raigad district administration to protect Panje as it has all the characteristics of a wetland. CIDCO has not complied with this, Pawar said.

The Mangrove Committee has also asked CIDCO and NMSEZ to restore Pagote and Bhendkhal wetlands where NMSEZ has dumped truckloads of debris and soil. The Raigad district administration has already filed FIURs against NMSEZ officials, he pointed out.

Kumar recalled that as late as in March this year, Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray has ordered halt to all construction at Panje. The Mangrove Foundation has asked CIDCO to handover wetlands at Panje (and Belpada, Bhendkhal, Talawe, TS Chanakya) to it for protection and conservation. CIDCO is yet to handover even as the wetlands are constantly endangered, Kumar said.

“In view of these and the need to preserve bio-diversity, sir, we request you to take an immediate decision to protect Panje as a Bird Sanctuary and develop it as a tourist destination to promote local socio-economic development,” the mail to CM said.

The environmentalists said government’s decision on Talawe Wetland (in Nerul) to protect it as a Flamingo Sanctuary has also been pending for a long time. The Environment Minister has promised an environmentalists team led by Sunil Agrawal, who have been fighting to save the wetland, that Talawe wetland could be declared as a Flamingo Sanctuary. The Minister had even asked CIDCO to come up with a plan but there has been no sign of any action on that front, so far.

Here too, said the environmentalists, it is the question of issuing an official order. “We request you to expedite this action as land sharks are waiting to grab this piece of bio-diversity and natural beauty,” they said and argued that “burial of wetlands has had disastrous effects on environment. Mumbai Metropolitan Region has already been suffering due to floods.”

Dilip Koli of fishing community forum, Paaramparik Machhimar Bachao Kruti Samiti, said wetlands act as urban sponges and work as flood control mechanism and serve the needs of the fishing community. Damage to wetlands impacts their lives as it snatches away their constitutional right to make a living out of fishing, Koli pointed out.