The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has urged the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) to relax certain conditions mentioned in the environment clearance for the speedy construction of the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link. The implementing body of the sea link connecting Sewri with Nhava Sheva wants permission to conduct construction work through the night and all through the year. As per the environment clearance granted to the project, no work is allowed beyond 10 pm and when flamingos migrate to the area. The migratory birds flock to the mudflats in the area between October and May.
“This will give us barely three to four months in a year to work on the project and the current construction period of four years will increase three times. So we have written to the MCZMA to relax the conditions,” said a senior MMRDA official. An official from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), which has been roped in to monitor the impact of the construction of the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) on flamingos, also holds a similar view.
“Whether you do the work at a stretch or intermittently, the flamingos will avoid the area if there is human and machinery interference. It would have been ideal if work was carried only when the flamingos were not around, but it won’t be practical as the work will take much longer to complete. It is better then that they complete the work fast and move out of the area causing minimal disturbance to the birds,” said an official from the conservation body.
He further suggested that the work will not affect the migratory pattern of the birds and once the sea link is completed, they will continue to flock around it. “The structure will not cause any disturbance to the birds and we have seen flamingos resting under bridges in Navi Mumbai. However, the greater worry is the pollution caused due to the construction and that is where MMRDA needs to undertake remedial measures,” he added.
As part of this measure, the MMRDA has roped in Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay to study the pollution at the Mahul creek and suggest ways to curb it. “BNHS had insisted that we work on the pollution level in the creek as it would affect the flamingos in the long term. Traces of heavy metal are found in the birds due to pollution and slowly this will take a toll on them. So we appointed IIT-B to conduct the study at a cost of Rs 5 crore. As part of the first phase of the study, they have identified the sources of the pollution and in the next five to six months will come up with ways to tackle them,” said Sanjay Khandare, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA.