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Mumbai draws the line around flamingo haven

The state has proposed a buffer zone of 3,405.99 ha, extending from 0 to 3.5 km around the sanctuary’s area, which has been designated an ESZ.

mumbai Updated: May 16, 2019 07:45 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Flamingo,Badri Chatterjee,Mumbai
In December 2018, the Supreme Court (SC) had issued a directive that the Union environment ministry should declare ESZs around 21 national park and wildlife sanctuaries which do not have buffer zones.(HT Photo)

The Maharashtra government has sent a proposal to the Union environment ministry to create a buffer zone around the Thane creek flamingo sanctuary in Mumbai suburban and Thane districts. However, this designated eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) doesn’t extend protection to mangroves, mud flats and salt pans on the northern and southern portions of the sanctuary. The final ESZ declaration notifications from the environment ministry are expected around November.

The 1,690.52-hectare (ha) Thane sanctuary has 167 bird species, including migratory flamingos. Now, the state has proposed a buffer zone of 3,405.99 ha, extending from 0 to 3.5 km around the sanctuary’s area, which has been designated an ESZ. “As of now, the ESZ area is twice the size of the sanctuary itself,” said Virendra Tiwari, additional principal chief conservator of forest (Mantralaya).

Badri Chatterjee Only agriculture, small scale industries and minor infrastructure are permitted.

The Thane sanctuary’s ESZ extends on the eastern and western boundaries of the sanctuary and includes nine villages – Turbhe, Mandale, Deonar, Vikhroli, Hariyali, Kanjur, Bhandup, Nahur, and Mulund. However, the northern and southern portions of the sanctuary, despite having mangroves, mud flats and salt pans, are not in an ESZ. “The proposal seems to accommodate requirements of the construction lobby, which has eyed development and infrastructure projects,” said Stalin D, director of the non-governmental organisation, Vanashakti.

“Various states have submitted ESZ declaration proposals. The proposals will be studied, shared with National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) for consideration, and draft notifications will be issued inviting suggestions and objections. By November, we expect to issue final ESZ declaration notifications,” a senior official from the Union environment ministry said.

In December 2018, the Supreme Court (SC) had issued a directive that the Union environment ministry should declare ESZs around 21 national park and wildlife sanctuaries which do not have buffer zones. The Centre did not receive any ESZ declaration proposal for the Thane sanctuary, Deolgaon Rehukuri Sanctuary in Ahmednagar district and Malvan Marine Sanctuary in Sindhudurg.

When the apex court directed the Maharashtra government to declare a 10-km buffer zone around all three sanctuaries, the state forest department said a 10-km wide ESZ was not possible around Thane sanctuary, but up to 3.5 kilometres would be protected.

“A large portion towards the western end of the flamingo sanctuary is already built-up starting from the eastern express highway onwards,” said Tiwari.

First Published: May 16, 2019 05:18 IST