The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), in accordance with a Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) directive, has roped in the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) to monitor the impact of the construction of the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) on flamingos and other water birds in the area. The MTHL, connecting Sewri with Nhava Sheva, will be built across the Thane creek that has an ecologically rich wetland that annually witnesses flocks of migratory birds. While clearing the proposal, the MoEF had laid down several conditions for the MMRDA, one of them being to work in consultation with the Bombay Natural History Society to minimise the impact on the migratory birds. A senior MMRDA official said: “We have got the BNHS on board as their expertise will help us mitigate any adverse impact on the environment and the migratory birds. Their name was proposed by the MoEF as they are best suited for the project.”
The research body will be involved in the project, right from the construction phase to monitor the impact of the activities on the birds and their mudflats and post-construction, it will focus on their conservation. Dr Deepak Apte, director, BNHS, said: “This is a landmark move as it is the first time that environmental monitoring will be conducted during a bridge construction. We want to set a benchmark so that more projects adopt it. The construction will definitely affect the ecology here but vehicular movement is not going to alter anything for them (the birds). We can see many birds resting under bridges in different parts of Navi Mumbai. Also, it is not going to alter their migratory patterns.”
The MMRDA is taking several steps to ensure minimising disturbances to the forest and other sensitive areas. The MTHL construction is set to begin in October.