Thursday, February 02, 2023
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Ramsar official stamp On Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary

But concerns over satellite wetlands remain, say greens


NatConnect Foundation

With the State authorities turning a blind eye to the series of complaints, NatConnect and Save Navi Mumbai Environment have drawn the attention of the MOEFCC to the “serious environmental violations”.

NAVI MUMBAI: It’s official now! The Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary, spread between Vashi and Bhandup, has been given the status of a Ramsar site by the International Wetlands Convention.

Jonathan Barzdo, Secretary General of Convention on Wetlands, has issued a certificate to this effect. TCFS is designated as Ramsar site Number 2490.

Virendra Tiwari, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest -State Mangrove Cell, tweeted the certificate with a message from the Centre which ratified the then Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s request for the Ramsar site status.

This status makes TCFS a part of an “international network, wherein the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources would contribute to sustainable development,” said Leena Nandan, Secretary – Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC).

“This is certainly a welcome development,” said B N Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation with a cautious note drawing attention to the gross neglect of six wetlands which form part of the TCFS Satellite Wetlands.

The Mangrove Cell under the Forest Department itself has prepared the satellite wetland plan and appears helpless in the face of CIDCO’s blunt refusal to recognise the five wetlands in Navi Mumbai.

The Mangrove cell is keen to conserve the Belpada, Bhendkhal, Panje, NRI and TS Chanakya wetlands (apart from the Bhandup one in Mumbai) but CIDCO refused to hand them over for conservation, NatConnect pointed out.

BNHS studies as well as the TSFC Management plan clearly state that the conservation of the satellite wetlands as the destination for thousands of migratory and local birds and to maintain the biodiversity, Kumar pointed out.

On the contrary, Belpada wetland is partially buried by JNPT and Bhendkhal waterbody is lost completely due landfill by NMSEZ. Panje intermittently goes dry as intertidal water flow is blocked, Nandakumar Pawar, head of Sagar Shakti, the marine division of NGO Vana Shakti, said.

The NRI wetland has been polluted due to the massive day-and-night construction of real estate property on its edge, Pawar said.

The Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study submitted by the Navi Mumbai International Airport Limited (NMIAL) has also mentioned the need to preserve the wetlands to prevent birds landing at the airport site – a fear expressed by the BNHS and environmentalists.

But the ground reality is that the bird destinations are being destroyed, Kumar and Pawar pointed out and complained to the Comptroller General of Audit of India.

With the State authorities turning a blind eye to the series of complaints, NatConnect and Save Navi Mumbai Environment have drawn the attention of the MOEFCC to the “serious environmental violations”.