The two upcoming special economic zones (SEZs) at Uran, about 60 km from the city, is threatening a large mangrove patch and neighbouring wetlands, according to a non-governmental organisation.
Save Uran Wetlands (SUW) has begun an online campaign to save the ecologically rich zone that is home to coastal vegetation and about 200 bird species. It has uploaded photographs that show truckloads of mud and sand collected from a nearby mountain being dumped on the mangroves. This violates a high court order banning the dumping of debris on mangroves and in the Coastal Regulatory Zone.
State Environment Secretary Valsa Nair Singh did not respond to phone calls from Hindustan Times.
'We have nothing against the SEZ, but wetlands and mangroves should be spared,' said Kalpana Malani, an SUW member.
A wall constructed at the mouth of the sea has stopped seawater from entering the mangroves patch, thus leading to their destruction. SUW has written several letters to the Ministry of Environment and Forests since last November when the construction began, but government intervention is still awaited. “The ministry said it would look into the matter, but nothing has changed,” said Dr Goldin Quadros, an SUW member.
According to experts, if trenches are dug scientifically to allow seawater in and mangroves planted, the coastal vegetation could revive in two monsoons. 'We have photographs showing seawater seeping in during the high tide despite the landfills and the wall,' said Quadros.
The World Wildlife Fund and the Bombay Natural History Society have volunteered to provide technical expertise. Mangroves are crucial for Uran because studies show that the region is prone to erosion.