The state mangrove cell had proposed to protect the wetlands as conservation reserves on the basis of a study report by the Bombay Natural History Society
An image of the Panje wetland, which environmentalists want protected as a bird sanctuary
As CIDCO rejected state mangrove cell's proposal to protect five wetlands, including the ones at Panje and Talawe, environment groups have sent an SOS to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to ignore the planning agency's objection. The green groups, in a fresh plea to the CM, called for immediately signing the pending orders to accord the status of bird sanctuaries to Panje and Talawe wetlands.
"Even as the government's formal decision on declaring Panje and Talawe wetlands as bird sanctuaries is pending, CIDCO has rejected a proposal from the mangrove cell to handover these two and four other wetlands to them for protecting and conserving them," B N Kumar, director, NatConnect Foundation said.
A map showing Panje wetland in CIDCO
The state mangrove cell had proposed to protect the wetlands as conservation reserves on the basis of a study report by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). Now, with the CIDCO's latest move, the mangrove cell has asked BNHS for its opinion, said Kumar quoting both the letters.
CIDCO, he said, argued that the five places quoted as wetlands by the mangrove cell do not qualify to be tagged as wetlands since they were farmlands or salt pan areas as per the revenue records.
Stating that "the mangrove cell wants to protect and CIDCO wants to destroy the wetlands", Kumar said, "Our appeal to the government is to reject CIDCO's opposition and take a firm and final decision in the interest of the environment." The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that environment matters. For Mumbai, wetlands mangroves matter, he said.
"This anti-environment attitude of CIDCO is not surprising," said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan. CIDCO had already allotted mangroves, wetlands and even holding pond areas for real estate development, he said and remarked, "Not unexpectedly, CIDCO, acting as a private builder, supports the NMSEZ stand that there are no wetlands in the geographies allotted to it."
Also Read: Environmentalists urge CM to declare Panje, Talawe wetlands as bird sanctuaries
The letter to the CM said, "Our earnest request to you sir is not to allow any more time for discussions on this grave issue concerning the biodiversity of our fragile MMR and quickly pass orders to declare Panje as a bird sanctuary and Talawe as a flamingo sanctuary."
"What remains to be done is just formal signatures on orders to save Panje and Talawe wetlands as bird/flamingo sanctuaries," Pawar said.
"The environment department is fully aware of the entire background of the issue. They are also aware that burial of wetlands is causing floods all across - including in Mumbai and MMR, said Dilip Koli of fishing community forum, Paaramparik Machhimar Bachao Kruti Samiti.
"Are a few lakh rupees more important than the lives and livelihoods of people," Koli asked and pointed out that the burial of wetlands is snatching away their right to fishing and live in peace.
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