State to boost infra for marine conservation at Versova beach | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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State to boost infra for marine conservation at Versova beach

The plan was first proposed by beach cleanup crusader and lawyer Afroz Shah

mumbai Updated: Mar 23, 2018 23:52 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Local farmers from the area where the turtles had hatched on Thursday said they had last spotted Olive Ridley eggs as early as August 1978.
Local farmers from the area where the turtles had hatched on Thursday said they had last spotted Olive Ridley eggs as early as August 1978. (Satish Bate/HT Photo)

After it was confirmed that Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings had made their way to the sea from a nesting site near methi (fenugreek) farms at Sagar Kutir Wadi in Versova on Thursday, the state mangrove cell said they were planning to develop a marine conservation and interpretation centre along Versova beach, subject to permissions from various state bodies.

“We have discussed the possibilities of such a centre in Versova. Based on existing coastal regulation zone (CRZ) rules, we are checking whether permission can be granted at certain areas along the beach. Considering a way out under CRZ norms, we will definitely go for it,” said N Vasudevan, additional chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell. “The construction of a rescue centre is already in the pipeline.”

“We will keep a watch at Versova for the next few days to check whether any other nesting has happened, and ensure their safe passage to the sea. We will also begin awareness programmes with local residents and farmers of the area so the species are not harmed.”

The plan was first proposed by beach cleanup crusader and lawyer Afroz Shah. “We have requested the cell to set up infrastructure similar to what exists at Dahanu, which houses not only turtles but dolphins, whales and porpoises as well. The centre can also help train local residents and school children about waste management and discourage the use of plastic,” he said. “We need a protocol from the forest department to ensure marine life is safe along our beaches.”

Meanwhile, local farmers from the area where the turtles had hatched on Thursday said they had last spotted Olive Ridley eggs as early as August 1978. Close to 300 eggs were collected by us back then but they were taken away by members of the Koli community from Versova, and we never saw them again. Since then this is the first time a turtle has laid eggs, especially in areas where we farm regularly,” said Jagdamba Prasad Yadav, 48, head of the fenugreek farming community along Sagar Kutir.

Saroj said their group believes the turtle that laid eggs near the 3x3ft methi farm had washed ashore during cyclone Ockhi that had hit the Mumbai and Gujarat coastline in December. However, Vasudevan refuted the claims, stating it does not take 120 days for the hatchlings to move towards the sea.

Dahisar resident Harish Pandey said even after a historical event like this, the forest department needed to make the area more turtle-friendly. “The area needs to be closely monitored by deploying forest guards to check for more nests,” he said.