‘Coastal road is a threat to 8 coral species’
The SagarShakti report concluded that the “coastal road is proposed to reclaim the entire intertidal rocky shores of Juhu, Khar, Bandra, Worli to Marine Drive, where these observations were made, and presents a direct threat to the habitat and survival of eight species of documented stony and soft corals”.Updated: Jun 27, 2019 09:01 IST
Eight species of corals are under threat from the proposed coastal road project, says a study compiled by SagarShakti, the marine research division of environment group, Vanashakti. The coastal road aims to cut short travel time between south Mumbai and western suburbs by 70%.
SagarShakti compiled the report from another report by Marine Life of Mumbai — which documented 130 observations of corals along the city shoreline, made between 2014 and 2019 — published on a website, iNaturalist. Corals are marine invertebrates that attach themselves to rocky intertidal regions or the ocean floor, and are carnivorous animals. As schedule 1 species, corals are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA).
The SagarShakti report concluded that the “coastal road is proposed to reclaim the entire intertidal rocky shores of Juhu, Khar, Bandra, Worli to Marine Drive, where these observations were made, and presents a direct threat to the habitat and survival of eight species of documented stony and soft corals”. “The reclamation also includes crushing of the widespread oyster beds and sea sponge habitats among other marine species,” it stated.
Sarita Fernandes, conservation officer, SagarShakti and author of the report, said the project will put these species at a risk of permanent extinction.
“Most of the species are found in the proposed reclamation zones. Owing to their presence in the Coastal Regulation Zone-1A 2019 and since they are reef-building and non-reef building, they acquire the highest protection status.” Stalin D, director, Vanashakti, said, “If there is a presence of schedule 1 species [under WPA], the civic body needs permission from the chief wildlife warden, state forest department, before reclamation, which it did not get.” Shaunak Modi, a marine enthusiast who has documented a large number of corals along the Mumbai coast, said he has found a variety of coral species in areas which are going to be reclaimed. Vanashakti — one of the many environmental groups that have moved the Bombay high court against the project, citing environmental concerns —will submit the report on corals during subsequent hearings.