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Nov 16, 2019-Saturday



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Saturday, Nov 16, 2019

Arrival of flamingos at Navi Mumbai wetlands offers new hope against golf course project

Birds such as terns, waders, herons, and seagulls, have all been spotted at the site.

mumbai Updated: Apr 30, 2018 23:41 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Flamingos typically migrate to Mumbai’s wetlands in the winter months
Flamingos typically migrate to Mumbai’s wetlands in the winter months(HT Photo)

Residents of Navi Mumbai were pleasantly surprised when a group of flamingos made their landing at the Talawe wetlands opposite the NRI complex in Nerul, over the weekend.

Residents estimated that close to 100 flamingos were spotted at one of the wetland patches, identified as pocket A, which is one of the five plots (A to D) acquired by City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) to construct residential buildings and a golf course.

“This wetland patch is threatened by debris dumping, which has led to the delay for not only flamingos but all wetland birds to arrive here,” said Pavan Sahu, Nerul resident and bird photographer, who first spotted the birds on Friday. “Earlier, large flocks had made this their home from November onward till June, but a lot has changed since construction began — locals dumping alcohol bottles and the fishing community encroaching in these areas. Now, they have arrived after a delay of almost six months.”

He added that other birds such as terns, waders, herons, and seagulls, have all been spotted at the site. “However, their numbers are falling drastically,” said Sahu.

Mumbai-based birders also confirmed the development after they spotted the birds on Sunday. “I spotted over 100 flamingos around 9.40am at the Talawe wetlands. Previously, there were isolated birds that would fly by but not settle at this wetland. It is absolutely wrong to construct at this site because it is clearly a wetland and has similar features of the Bhandup pumping station,” said Mrinal Ghosh, birder and Chembur resident.

Albeit delayed, the arrival holds significance in the wake of an affidavit submitted by Mistry Constructions Pvt Ltd. to the Bombay HC in response to another petition by the Navi Mumbai Environmental Preservation Society regarding the proposed airport at Navi Mumbai. The private company claims that the site is not a wetland and said that an earlier report submitted by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) had inaccuracies and contradictions regarding proposed declaration of the site as an important bird area (IBA). “I say that the project has been seemingly singled out for such observations, which runs contrary to previous reports by BNHS. In any event, the site for the said project (golf course proposed by CIDCO) is not a wetland..,” reads the affidavit.

The petitioners now plan to submit the arrival of flamingos as evidence in court during the next hearing on June 13. “Spotting the near-threatened flamingos clarifies and confirms BNHS’ report and makes it a strong case for us to oppose this construction. The area needs to be declared a wetland bird sanctuary before it is too late,” said Agarwal.

Officials from CIDCO and Ministry Constructions refused to comment, stating that it was a sub judice matter.