After filing complaints to the mangrove committee, it directed the CIDCO to open the gates to allow free-flow of tidal water.
Mumbai: In a move to protect the vast Panje wetlands in Uran from further destruction, environmental activists have urged the state chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to declare the wetland as a ‘bird sanctuary’. In a letter to the Mr Fadnavis and the Bombay high court appointed mangrove committee, environment groups urged to provide the status of a Bird Sanctuary to Panje wetlands, following the Bombay Natural History Society’s (BNHS) recommendation to declare the site as a protected wetland.
Since last few months, there were incidents of blockage of tidal water in Panje wetland, when the sluice gates at the site were closed by the development authority CIDCO. After filing complaints to the mangrove committee, it directed the CIDCO to open the gates to allow free-flow of tidal water.
Even as the BNHS recorded around 218 types of migratory birds at the site, activists feel that the wetland has been neglected. “What is even more shocking is that CIDCO has also leased out to NMSEZ. In fact, as you step into the wetland, you will see the massive boundary wall erected by NMSEZ,” said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, the NGO that co-wrote the letter.
The wetlands near Panje-Punde-Dongri are the part of CIDCO’s holding pond no.1, which spreads across 289 hecters. Panje wetland alone accounts for 232 hecters of the pond.
“The Panje sanctuary could also help develop eco-tourism and become a destination for bird watchers. It could also help local fishermen resettle themselves as their livelihood has been lost due to development of various infrastructure projects in Uran,” said B.N. Kumar, director of NatureConnect, who also wrote the letter.
In an earlier report by the BNHS, the organisation had also stated that it is essential to preserve Panje wetlands as being in the proximity of the Navi Mumbai International Airport, it could act as an important habitat for birds.
“How could CIDCO lease out a wetland for an infrastructure project? The area is not far away from Navi Mumbai International Airport and if birds helter-skelter they could pose disastrous dangers to the aircraft,” read the letter.
The letter also highlighted that as local youths at times block water-flow into Panje to create dry patches for playing cricket, proper sports facilities should be created for the villages to prevent destruction.