Lockdown: Nature lovers, party animals break rules to enter sanctuary

Updated: Jun 01, 2020, 07:49 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

While the Thane Creek Flamingoes Sanctuary is a hotspot for parties during the lockdown, bird lovers have also been entering the area illegally

Bottles of alcohol have been seen scattered near the flamingoes watching point in the sanctuary
Bottles of alcohol have been seen scattered near the flamingoes watching point in the sanctuary

It seems both party animals and nature lovers cannot stop themselves from entering the Thane Creek Flamingoes Sanctuary at the Bhandup pumping station. The area has become a hotspot for partying during the lockdown, and it has also been seen that nature lovers are defying the rules to enter and watch flamingoes.

It has been observed that despite the lockdown, in various parts of Mumbai people still come out of their houses to walk, jog and sometimes even go out in their cars without any valid reason. The police have been taking action against such people by giving them notices and registering cases against habitual or regular offenders. The Mumbai police have also impounded vehicles of those driving on the road without any reason.

Shut for people
From the time the lockdown was announced in the state, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, tiger reserves and protected areas were shut for the public as experts expressed fear that COVID-19 might infect wild animals. In Mumbai the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and Thane Creek Flamingos Sanctuary have also been shut for people.

While the entry of the people has been strictly barred for tourists and outsiders in SGNP, it has been observed that many nature lovers are illegally entering the Thane Creek flamingos sanctuary through Bhandup pumping station to watch flamingoes. It has also been found that people are allegedly consuming alcohol in the protected area and the bottles are seen scattered on the ground near the flamingos watching point in the sanctuary.

'Increase patrolling'
Talking to mid-day a local resident said, "The lockdown clearly states that people should stay indoors but what shocks us is the fact that educated people including nature lovers and wildlife photographers are illegally coming to the Bhandup pumping station to click pictures of flamingoes. Some people are even consuming alcohol near the flamingoes watching point and the scattered beer and alcohol bottles are proof of the same. The patrolling team of the Vikhroli police station has been taking action against those who illegally enter the area. I feel that the mangroves cell should also increase patrolling and book those who are illegally entering it."
The Vikhroli police have been patrolling in the area and taking action against those entering illegally.

Virendra Tiwari, additional principal chief conservator of forest (APCCP) and head of the Mangroves Cell, said, "We are aware of the situation. It has been raised in the past, before the lockdown. We had planned to have a gate constructed right at the entrance of the Bhandup Pumping Station (at Eastern Express Highway). A chowki was also being planned for officials. However, due to the lockdown, this had to be kept on hold. We are looking into the matter."

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