The state forest department is one step closer to declaring parts of the Thane creek as a wildlife sanctuary. The state’s wildlife wing in Nagpur has recommended the proposal to the state government this week.
The 1690.52-hectare wildlife sanctuary will include mangrove forests and adjoining mudflats along the western part of the Thane creek. It excludes the main part of the creek and falls between the Vashi and Airoli bridges. Called the ‘Thane Creek Sanctuary’, the protected area will mainly include the mangrove forests and wetlands of Mulund, Vikhroli, Bhandup, Kanjurmarg and Mandale.
“We have recommended the proposal of the mangrove cell to notify parts of the Thane creek as a wildlife sanctuary and sent it to the forest secretary. Once the sanctuary is notified, rights have to be established, which may take some time,” said a senior forest official who did not wish to be named.
Newsline had first reported about the mangrove cell’s proposal in March last year.
The proposed sanctuary area is home to more than 25,000 flamingos and various bird species such as painted storks, ospreys, terns and little herons, ibis, white-bellied sea eagle and plovers.
According to N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, mangrove cell, this area is where thousands of flamingos congregate and people are not even aware of it and believe flamingos are mainly seen at Sewri. “Declaring the area a wildlife sanctuary will facilitate regulated tourism in the area. Currently, it is very expensive to reach this untouched stretch from the Gateway of India and no tourist boats go to the area. Once it’s declared a sanctuary, the marine interpretation centre of the mangrove cell at Airoli will be the gateway to this sanctuary,” he said.
Joint secretary of forests, U M Farooqui, said Monday that his department was yet to get the proposal. Thane creek will be the second marine sanctuary in the state, after Malvan. Notifying this stretch as a protected area was an environmental impact mitigation condition for the Navi Mumbai International Airport and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link projects.
Traditional fishing and related activities will not be hampered as the protected areas do not include the main creek where fishing takes place, assured forest officials.