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New link will turn 10k flamingoes homeless

After Bombay Natural History Society raised concerns that trans harbour link may destroy the migratory bird's haunt, MMRDA said it is open to suggestions for its preservation

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has said that it is willing to consider recommendations to preserve the habitat of flamingoes in the city, which may be impinged, what with the upcoming Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).



The assurance came after the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) raised concerns that the habitat of the gregarious waders that flock to the city in winter might be affected due to the proposed construction of the link between Sewri and Nhava Sheva.

Speaking to MiD DAY, MMRDA Commissioner Rahul Asthana said, "We care a lot about flamingoes and we are ready for discussions with and suggestions from anyone.

The construction of the bridge is important for connectivity and we would take all precautionary measures so that the habitat of the migratory birds that come to Sewri during winter is not destroyed."

In a discussion session on Thursday, BNHS officials had expressed the concern that the bridge's alignment is such that it would pass right through the mudflats at Sewri, the haunt of over 10,000 flamingoes migrating to the city every year.

"The disturbance during the construction in the form of noise, air and water pollution and eventually from the traffic and other "development" projects that might come up in the area is likely to jeopardise this crucial feeding ground of flamingoes," a functionary said.

After the discussion, BNHS stated that it is not against the project, but in order to save the habitat of flamingoes and other bird species, the MMRDA should shift the location of the bridge connector by 700 m.

Because the place currently proposed for erecting the piers of the connector is exactly in the breeding grounds of the bird.

'No scope for change'
But an MMRDA official, requesting anonymity, responded to the suggestion, saying, "There is already a space crunch in the area and there is no scope for making changes in the alignment of the bridge."

His reaction seemed contrary to MMRDA commissioner's statement that the authority was open to discussions and suggestions for the well-being of the flamingoes, officials pointed out.

It also implied that the habitat of the wading bird - a prime attraction for tourists and nature lovers - is not safe from construction upheaval, and that birdwatchers would only be able to spot flamingoes this year and the next, because by 2013, the construction of MTHL is due to begin.

Longest sea link
The Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, which would be 22 km long, will connect Sewri in the island city to Nhava
in Navi Mumbai.

The project involves the construction of the longest sea bridge yet in the country. Interchanges have been proposed at Sewri to connect to Eastern Freeway and at Chirle to connect to the NH 4B to facilitate traffic dispersal.

The implementation of the project is estimated to cost around Rs 8,800 crore and will be done on a public-private partnership basis.

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