Thane creek no longer
THANE: Anil Kubal, 44, loves watching the flamingos when they fly to Thane creek for their annual visit.
A nature lover, Kubal has been living in Kopri for 26 years.
In the past few years, he has noticed that there weren’t as many flamingos as there used to be.
“The flamingo count has reduced due to dumping of garbage,” Kubal said.
“Officials should start fining at least Rs1,000 to those who dump garbage in the creek.”
According to Kubal, the Thane Municipal Corporation keeps garbage bins along the creek only during Ganesh Chaturthi, after which, they are removed and the problem worsens.
“The local residents throw garbage into creek which pollute the water and the environment,” he said.
Garbage dumping in Thane creek and constructions in the nearby areas have reduced the number of flamingoes in the past five years, said environmentalists.
“Earlier, we would see around 2,000 flamingoes. The number has reduced by 20%,” said Amit Sharma, a member of Echo Echo, an NGO which researches wildlife and nature.
The NGO have been studying the reasons behind the declining flamingo population, including division of water bodies near the creek, and constructions which have encroached around the creek.
The creek, which stretches from Kopri in Thane to Airoli in Navi Mumbai, sees flamingos between December-end till June-end.
“The construction work along the creek has polluted the area. The flamingos have been forced to shift to other places,” said Abhijeet Jagtap, 23, who works for Terra Nero, an environmental consultancy.
Hundreds of nature lovers flock the area to see the flamingos.
Siddhi Sawant, 23, a resident of Ghodbunder, said, “The creek becomes a tourist attraction when flamingoes visit in the summer and winter. Being migratory birds, they come to India all the way from Siberia. The authorities should take steps to conserve the environment.”
Nishant Bangera, 23, senior executive of a Thane-based private company, dreads the day when flamingoes will stop flying to the creek.
“The Thane forest depart- ment must levy heavy fines on the illegal dumpers, as constant dumping is depleting Thane’s rich biodiversity, which is home to many migratory birds such as little ringed plover, ibis, sandpiper and brown headed gulls,” Bangera said.
Avkash Jadhav, history professor from St Xavier’s College in Mumbai and an environmental activist, said: “I have written to the forest department about the problem. Flamingos hunt for mud flats. Mumbai and Thane have peripheral areas which still have mud flats. We have to sustain them, so that the ecological chain is not disturbed. There is rampant encroachment in the area.”
The NGO research team said, “We are urging the public to keep the creek garbage-free. Flamingos need different habitats such as mangrove swamps, tidal flats and sandy islands in the inter-tidal zone.”
“Flamingoes can travel 500600km in a night with a speed of 50-60 kmp. Thane is rich in avian, reptile and fish population, compared to Sewri and Mahul, as Thane’s mangrove density is around 5 to 7 km, whereas it is 2 to 3 km in Sewri,” he added.