A CONCERTED effort would be undertaken by various stakeholders including fishing communities to preserve Thane creek, one of the last remaining wetlands of the region still frequented by flamingos. A 1,690-hectare area of the 26-km long Thane creek, one of the biggest natural creeks in the country, was declared a flamingo sanctuary last year. However, with various studies showing heavy presence of toxic waste, including metals in the creek, researchers, activists and locals are now working to protect the region.
“We will be recommending to authorities to come up with a separate committee to monitor all the issues of Thane creek. There are issues pertaining to non-compliance and penalty will be recommended to them,” said Dr RP Athale, research member of the baseline assessment project being carried out by Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History on the creek assigned by the state forest department.
Many issues of the Thane creek came to the fore in a stakeholder discussion on Tuesday which was participated by industrialists, builders, housing societies, fishing villages and saltpan owners. Members spoke of the increase in number of flamingos visiting the Thane creek compared to the past few years.
“There have been quite a lot of extensive wetland areas which have been destroyed in the past few years. At the Thane creek too, the innards of the soil of mangroves are choked with effluents from Mumbai. There are at least 15,000-20,000 flamingos at Sewri bay and Thane creek which come in December and leave around June,” said naturalist and writer, Sunjoy Monga.
“The toxic waste released into the creek by industries on the Thane-Belapur belt surfaces during high tide. The stench of chemicals in the water is unbearable and is also affecting the wetlands. The mangrove forest seems dense but the wetland ecosystem which is a breeding ground for many marine species has been left unstable due to the presence of toxic material,” said Nandkumar Pawar, of NGO Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishthan. Pawar, who was part of the discussion, said that the situation has deteriorated in the past few years with the number of fish found in the creek having come down drastically.
“The other concern is that the leachate from Mulund dumping ground also finds its way into the Thane creek. Now, the BMC has announced that there will be another dumping ground at Airoli, close to the creek. This will only worsen the situation,” said Bharat Khedekar, a fisherman from Nanepada in Mulund east. Members of the fishing communities also said that the large amount of plastic thrown from the railway bridges into the creek should be stopped.