Ever wondered what happened to those sparrows and koyals that would chirpily greet you every morning? Or those trees and shrubs around the neighbourhood that aren’t standing where they used to?
Students from 40 city schools have collected data on the various species of flora and fauna in the city, some of them dwindling, as part of a project called Haan, Main Apraadhi Hoon. This project has been initiated by Paryavaran Vibhaag, Maharashtra Shasan’s Project Green Ideas and environmental NGO OASIS.
Led by college goers, who were the eco-ambassadors for this mission, 50 students from class 8 and 9 from each of the 40 schools, went around the vicinity of their respective school to survey the general flora and fauna as well as make a special note of the species that were depleting fast. These students, called eco-surveyers, then spent six months to consolidate the data and compile their findings."The biggest challenge was not the survey itself, but to convince the school principals for the same. But eventually it worked out fine," says says Dr Puja Vijay Sukhija, executive director, OASIS.
Some of the findings revealed by the study are not surprising. "Mostly, trees have been felled for development. This has led to decrease in bird population. To add insult to injury, the lanes have open garbage spots that attract crows. Students observed that wherever the crow population was high there was no other bird species to be found," says she.
The initiators of this project also plan to follow up this campaign by encouraging residents to participate in helping to preserve the environment. “The next level of our project will be to encourage the resident societies to plant flora that attracts fauna. For eg. lantanas (flowering plant), attracts butterflies and is easy to maintain,” says Sukhija.
Top tourist draws in state
1. Mahabaleshwar: Shop for canned jams made from strawberries and raspberries, all grown locally.
2. Tarkarli: Known for its pristine beaches, emerald green waters and great sea food.
3. Matheran: Don’t feed the monkeys. They will not leave your side if you do!
4. Alibaug: Kihim and Varsoli Beach are a few good places to visit nearby.
5. Shirdi: It is a tiny town with just two square km of main street and several bylanes.
6. Ganpatipule: Famous for the Devgad ‘Hapus’ mangoes and a stunning beach.
7. Lonavala: Got its name from Lonavli, which means ‘city surrounded by caves’.
8. Kashid Beach: If you seek adventure, surfing is an attractive alternative here.
9. Diveagar: A must visit for its white sands, azure waters, coconut groves and betel nut trees.
10. Murud: A la Goa, Murud too hosts umpteen shacks on its beach.
Alibaug: This relatively clean beach is a popular picnic spot. It’s also easily accessible. All you need to do is hop on to a ferry at Gateway of India. Added pleasures include access to Kihim and Murud beaches.
Also check out: Diveagar, Dapoli, Shriwardhan Bay, Korlai and Kelva.
Matheran: Reels have been written about the toy train that takes tourists to this pretty hill station. It is also a trekker’s paradise. Add to this, the whole old-world charm factor, and you have yourself a perfect weekend retreat.
Also check out: Jawahar, Mahuli, Panhala and Sajan.
Murud-Janjira: Best known for Murud beach and the island fort of Janjira, this popular tourist spot offers some breathtaking views as one travels down roads that run parallel to the sea. Occupied by the Siddis, Janjira was the only fort along India’s Western coast that remained undefeated despite attacks by the Dutch, Marathas and East India Company. What’s more, it is reportedly haunted.
Also check out: Chand Minar, Lohagarh, Karla and Bhaja Caves.