Thane creek no longer

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Live - - THANE - Arvind Walmiki

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.

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