The green cover in Navi Mumbai has always attracted attention. Environmentalists and social awareness groups have ensured it stays as it is by keeping vigil, as there are constant encroachments here.
The Airoli side of Thane creek, which the MLA wants to turn into a tourist spot
Earlier this month the state forest department had issued a notification declaring Thane creek as a flamingo sanctuary Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary.
However, soon after the announcement, politicians seem eager to convert part of the area into a tourist spot. Airoli MLA Sandeep Naik recently announced that he will construct a jetty near Airoli as a tourist attraction. He said it will be done without affecting the ecology.
The creek that starts from Airoli, extending to Vashi, spread over 1,690 hectares including 896 hectares of mangroves and 794 hectares of water body, was declared a sanctuary last week. Now the area below the Airoli bridge connecting Mumbai will be developed into a bird watching spot, Naik added.
Speaking to mid-day, he said, “The creek area near Airoli houses several rare species of birds and hence it could be converted in to a tourist spot of international standards, without affecting the ecology. A temporary jetty already exists near the bridge that is used by the fishermen. We will just develop the area for attracting tourists.”
Only the west side
As per notification by the state forest department, no development is allowed near any region declared as sanctuary. However, officials from the forest department revealed that only the west side of the creek that falls on the Mulund side has been declared as sanctuary. The eastern front at Airoli has not been declared as a sanctuary.
N Vasudevan, Chief Conservator of Forests and head of the Mangrove cell, said, “The state forest department has declared only the west side of the creek which is near Mulund, as a sanctuary. The patch on the Airoli front has not been declared as a sanctuary. There are also more birds on the west side.”
Sources revealed that the eastern front of the creek starting at Airoli in Navi Mumbai is under the jurisdiction of CIDCO and has not yet been handed over to the state forest department. Hence the area is not notified as a sanctuary.
Now that the Thane creek has been declared as a sanctuary under section 18 of the Wild Life Protection Act 1972, it will fall under the Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit under Thane forest division.