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NGO writes to Thane collector, flags large-scale reclamation of wetlands

The Thane Creek area is home to 194 recorded species of birds.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
May 13, 2014 3:17:43 am

An NGO on Monday wrote to the Thane collector alleging massive reclamation of wetlands at Mithbunder at Kopri, off Thane Creek.

According to Thane-based NGO Paryavaran Dakshata Manch, debris dumped in the reed-filled areas of the Thane creek wetland is up to two metres high and bulldozers have been used to flatten the reeds.

“This reclamation has been going on from the Mulund side of the creek from the past few months. Systematic burning of the grass and on one occasion burning of the mangroves  has taken place. However, on May 9, the area behind the P E Society English Medium High School in Kopri was covered in a few hours and used as a roadway to dump the debris on the reed area. They have taken over 10 acres of wetlands. A similar exercise is underway at the Mulund end of the property and  near the Kanhaiyya Nagar side of Thane East,” read the letter.

The saltpans situated in Thane (East) near K C College is an Important Bird Area . “This area has been a haven for birders over the years and is considered Thane’s ‘Best Spot’ for birding given its rich biodiversity. The dumping and destruction of this area is going on for several months now and we have written to all authorities regarding it. As per our enquiries private builders have taken over the plot for a housing project,” said Vidydhar Walavalkar, general secretary of the NGO.

Around 29 people associated with various NGOs from Borivali, Kalyan, Dombivaili, Powai and parts of Thane met near the site on Sunday to decide on future action against the dumping and landfilling on the reed areas of the creek and blockage of tidal water.

“We met to decide on the future course of action to protect the Thane creek area. We also wanted to spread awareness among locals on the importance of saving these wetlands and saltpan land as they protect us from flooding,” said naturalist Avinash Bhagat.

The chief conservator of forests, mangrove cell, could not be reached for comment.

The Thane Creek area is home to 194 recorded species of birds, according to a report by naturalists Clara Correia and Avinash Bhagat. Some of the rare species seen in this area this year included Broad billed sandpiper, Watercock, Amur Falcon, Woolly Necked Stork and short-eared owl. Although 194 bird species were spotted between September 2013 and March 2014, an increase from 188 species spotted in 2012-13 and 164 spotted in 2011-12, the actual number of birds spotted were alarmingly less, said Bhagat.

mumbai.newsline@expressindia.com

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