Sewri wetland to get global status?

The Sewri mudflats, the perfect site to spot thousands of lesser flamingoes, are likely to be recognised internationally as an important wetland.

By the end of the month, the state forest department will send a proposal to the ministry of environment and forest, with a recommendation to declare the wetland a Ramsar site.

This will make the wetland attain international importance and greater protection under the Ramsar Convention of 1971, under whose banner February 2 is observed as World Wetlands Day.

“The Sewri mudflats are an important wetland area as they provide shelter and are a feeding ground for lesser flamingos who reside there,” said Vivek Khandekar, joint secretary, state forest department.

Lesser flamingos have been visiting the Mumbai coast and adjoining Thane creek since 1990. Every year, thousands migrate from the Rann of Kutch region in Gujarat to the Sewri mudflat.

Apart from flamingos, many waders such as shanks, sandpipers, stints, gulls, egrets and herons are also seen in this area.

Besides the Sewri mudflat in Mumbai, proposals will also be sent to declare Nandur Madhmeshwar Sanctuary at Nashik and the Ujani dam in Pune as Ramsar sites.

Experts are currently whetting the proposals before sending it to the union environment ministry, after which it will go to the Ramsar convention. Based on the proposal, the process of declaring the wetland as a Ramsar site will take around two months.

Wetlands not only support huge bird populations, but also serve as a vital source of drinking water and ground water recharge. Water pollution, dumping of waste, reclamation and poaching are some of the major threats to wetlands and birds in India.

A study conducted by the Bombay Natural History Society in 2011 had identified the Sewri mudflat among 135 potential Ramsar sites. At present, 25 wetlands in India are recognised as Ramsar sites.

“Declaring the mudflat as a Ramsar site will give it a fresh lease of life and lasting protection for the wetland bird habitat,” said Stalin D, environmentalist, Vanashakti.


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