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Wetlands along Maharashtra’s Konkan coast to be declared as eco-tourism destinations soon

State government hopes to protect wetlands better by educating tourists about eco-sensitive zones

mumbai Updated: Jan 09, 2018 14:48 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,wetlands,Konkan coast
Sewri-Mahul Creek(Hindustan Times)

For better protection of Maharashtra’s wetlands, the state government has begun the process to declare at least one wetland in each district along the Konkan coastline as eco-tourism destinations.

Konkan commissioner Jagdish Patil directed collectors from Mumbai Suburban Palghar, Thane and Raigad to survey and select one wetland site each earlier this month. The collectors need to submit the location during the next meeting of the wetland grievance redressal committee (constituted by the Bombay high court (HC) in August 2016) later this month. After preliminary discussions, proposals for each location will be submitted and identified as eco-tourism zones.

Natural wetlands comprise creeks, estuaries, marshes, riverbanks, seashores, backwaters, and coral reefs. Manmade lakes, saltpans, reservoirs, abandoned quarries and dams are also considered as wetlands. Wetland destruction was banned in the state by the HC in 2012.

“Wherever tourists come in contact with eco-sensitive zones, they get educated about the importance of such sites. With the right infrastructure and support from our tourism ministry, once these zones become tourist hotspots, we will be able to preserve these wetlands much better,” said Patil adding, “A clear example of such a zone is Melghat in Amravati, where poaching was rampant a decade ago and still is in some areas. However, after the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve was developed, such problems ceased to exist.”

He added that there were three conditions for the selection of these wetlands – the area should be at least 60 hectare in size, it should host migratory bird or resident wetland bird population, and should be home to peculiar floral and faunal species. “Satellite maps and wetland atlases are available to the district collectors to prioritise and choose the sites by the next meeting. Once proposals are ready, the state tourism department or regional tourist organisations will be roped in for infrastructure establishment,” said Patil.

Other officials from the wetland committee said employment opportunities for local residents was an added benefit. “The locations need to be accessible to a large number of tourists, and the current population residing there can help protect the site, assist tourists and generate revenue,” said JR Gowda, member secretary of the HC appointed committee.

Environmentalists welcomed the move. “Albeit the decision to do this is a decade late, but this is a good move. The best means for conservation is to draw people closer to such areas, by making them attractive and accessible,” said Stalin D, director, NGO Vanashakti and member of the committee.

First Published: Jan 08, 2018 17:06 IST