Updated: July 27, 2021 9:19:05 am
The mangrove cell of the state forest department has proposed the biodiversity rich Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary (TCFS) to be designated as a ‘Ramsar site’. If approved, TCFS, spread over 1,690.5 hectares, will be the first such site in Mumbai Metropolitan Region and third in the Maharashtra to be designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites).
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention for the conservation of wetlands was called the ‘Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat’. The convention got its name of Ramsar Convention from the city of Ramsar in Iran where it was signed in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
Surrounded by highly urbanised areas, TCFS is spread across Mulund, Vikhroli, Bhandup, Kanjur. It is home to 12 mangrove species, 39 mangrove-associates, 167 species of birds, including flamingos, 45 fish species, 59 species of butterflies, 67 insect species among other mammals like jackals.
Speaking at a virtual event organised by Climate Voices — a collective of three organisations along with the state environment and climate change department’s Majhi Vasundhara initiative — Virendra Tiwari, additional principal chief conservator of forests, said, “A proposal to declare Thane creek as a Ramsar site has been submitted to the state wetland authority, headed by state environment minister Aaditya Thackeray. Following this, it can be sent to the central government.”
India joined the convention in 1982 and since then 42 sites have been designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 10,81,438 hectares. Nandur Madhameshwar, which became the first site designated from Maharashtra, is 2,410 on the list. The Lonar lake in Buldhana district was declared as the 41st Ramsar site of India and second in the state, last year.
The advantages of being declared a Ramsar site are that it will help in conservation and wise use of the wetland, receive national and international cooperation for conservation and management, receive central funding, boost tourism, generate employment for locals and bring economic benefits for surrounding areas due to increased tourism and create awareness for conservation of other wetlands in the state.
Meanwhile, speaking about the conservation of wetlands in the state, Manisha Patankar-Mhaiskar, Principal Secretary, environment and climate change department, announced setting up a task force to conduct a fresh survey of wetlands in the state.
“We will be looking at all the wetlands (even those that may have been left out) for our latest inventory in an attempt to protect as many wetlands as possible across Maharashtra. The minister is already planning to meet with collectors from all districts in the state to conduct a fresh exercise to identify and demarcate wetlands that are left out. We will be setting up a task force to get this done at the earliest,” said Mhaiskar.
The move comes in after the state government received flak for saying in an affidavit submitted to the Bombay High Court, that there were no wetlands in Nandurbar, Parbhani and Nagpur districts, based on the reports from respective district collectors.
Recently, the Raigad district administration informed the HC panel that there were no wetland sites in Uran taluka.
However, in the affidavit submitted on January 30, last year the state government verified 164 wetland sites in Nandurbar, 78 in Parbhani and 561 in Nagpur.
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