Adani’s Navi Mumbai airport to save wetlands & avert bird hits
NAVI MUMBAI: Contrary to state-owned planning body CIDCO’s stand on wetlands in Navi Mumbai, the Adani-controlled upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport Limited (NMIAL) has incorporated the BNHS suggestion to protect the water bodies in the interest of air safety.
“Any changes in the current state of these areas (the wetlands) will result into more erratic movement of the birds in the landscape between feeding and roosting sites, which may jeopardise the air safety of NMIA,” Adani-controlled project proponent said in its Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study, quoting BNHS, submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Control.
Appreciating this, NatConnect Foundation director B N Kumar expressed the hope that the wetlands will be conserved which has also been desired by the State Mangrove Foundation. CIDCO has been just ignoring the existence of the wetlands though listed by BNHS in the report done for the planner.
The EIA study, done by Hyderabad-based Vimta Labs Limited, pointed out that BNHS “strictly suggests” that proponent should protect and conserve the biologically important habitats - Wetlands at - NRI (Non-Residential Indian) complex, Delhi Public School (DPS), Training Ship Chanakya (TSC), Panje, NSPS (Nava Sheva Police Station) and Jasai where large aggregations of birds are observed.
Sunil Agrawal of Save Navi Mumbai Environment forum, who fought and won a High Court battle to save the twin wetlands of NRI and TS Chanakya from getting converted into a golf course, said the admission by the Adani-NMIA report is a positive development and “vindicates our stand” to save the biodiversity properties.
The EIA study acknowledged the fact that the golf course has been cancelled.
“It is our earnest request to the government to declare these wetlands as conservation properties and allow the Mangrove Foundation to take care of them,” Agrawal said.
Environmentalists also expressed concern over the massive ongoing construction adjoining the wetlands despite the High Court striking down the project. The Supreme Court is yet to hear the special leave petition filed by CIDCO and the builder Mistry Construction.
BNHS has been appointed by CIDCO to do the periodic baseline survey of avian fauna and quarterly as well as annual reports placed on CIDCO’S website. CIDCO and BNHS have also signed a 10-year MOU (valid up to 2028) to track bird movements and advice regarding overall development of Navi Mumbai to ensure adequate habitats are maintained for the sustenance and growth of birds and do not endanger flight movements.
The movement of tidal influenced birds is very high during high tide and they congregate at these sites to feed and rest. During our study, apart from tidal birds, there were large populations of non-tidal birds, which moved less between the sites as they did not influence the tide, at NRI and Panje- Funde. The study indicates that there is a high probability of bird movement between the study sites and it appears that tidal height and water depth in temporary water pools created by local fishermen govern this movement. The movement of tidal influenced birds is very high during high tide and they congregate at these sites to feed and rest. During our study, apart from tidal birds, there were large populations of non-tidal birds, which moved less between the sites as they did not influence the tide, at NRI and Panje Funde, the BNHS report as quoted in the EIA report said.
In a single day, the average maximum numbers of birds counted at all the sites listed by BNHS were about 10,860. Therefore, looking at this large numbers of birds and their local movement, NMIA authorities are advised that they should be cautious during high tide from December to February month so as to avoid bird hit calamities, BNHS said according to the EIA.
NatConnect, which has been running a campaign to save the wetlands and the NMIA flights, said CIDCO should reconcile its stand visa-vis the wetlands and contribute to the conservation of the biodiversity instead of destroying it with its greed for making quick bucks. The State-owned planning body must behave with a sense of responsibility, he said.
NMIAL submitted the EIA study as part of its application for fresh Environmental and CRZ Clearance for this project in lieu of expiry of the previous permissions in November last.