Tagged birds back to Panje after 3 yrs

Greens outcry to save wetland

NGT order to clear water blocks continues to be violated for 15 days, says NatConnect.

NAVI MUMBAI: With the overflow of little tidal water into parched Panje Wetland at Uran in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), migratory birds tagged by BNHS in September 2018 have returned to the area bringing into sharp focus the need to conserve ‘urban sponges’.

Panje has been reduced to a dry land with the blocking of tidal water inlets by vested interests despite an order from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to clear the hindrances. Some tidal water, however, flowed over the manmade bunds into parts of the wetland which has become uneven due to intermittent illegal, landfill, NGO NatConnect Foundation said.

Local birder Parag Gharat who ventured out with his camera after seeing the waterflow spotted the tagged birds. NatConnect director B N Kumar quickly cross-checked with BNHS which identified the birds as greater sandplover (Charadrius Leshnaultii).

BNHS also confirmed that it has done the tagging. “Looks like the birds are using Mumbai coast as stopover or refuelling site,” remarked BNHS director Dr Bivash Pandav.

The sandplovers that breed in semi-deserts of Central Asia such as Turkey, have the tendency to fly eastward and can live from 12 to 19 years. This species is strongly migratory, wintering on sandy beaches in East Africa, South Asia and Australasia, BNHS experts said.

Ahead of the World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) being observed on May 8, NatConnect Foundation has launched a campaign, focusing on birds and bio-diversity. “Migratory birds are our seasonal guests and we are lucky in MMR to have them visiting us,” said Kumar.

“The migratory birds teach us the importance of maintaining our wetlands as not only their birds breeding or nesting grounds, but as urban sponges that absorb flood waters. Wetlands are home to several microbes which are essential for our biodiversity as we are taught in our schools,” he said.

Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, regretted that most of the Panje Wetland remained dry as water flow is continued to be blocked by vested interests. “We just cannot understand how the officials can keep flouting the NGT order to clear the manmade blocks at the five water inlets,” he said and alleged that the State government agency CIDCO is apparently hands-in-glove with the vested interests at work to keep the wetland dry to facilitate construction there.