Residents of Navi Mumbai were in for a pleasant surprise when Talawe wetlands opposite the NRI complex in Nerul were graced by the presence of a flock of flamingos over the weekend.
Residents claimed that nearly 100 flamingos were spotted at one of the wetland patches which is identified as patch A, which is one of the five plots acquired by CIDCOto construct residential buildings and golf course.
“This wetland patch is threatened by debris dumping, which has led to the delay for not only flamingos but all wetland birds to arrive here,” said Pavan Sahu, Nerul resident and bird photographer, who first spotted the birds on Friday. “Earlier, large flocks had made this their home from November onward till June, but a lot has changed since construction began — locals dumping alcohol bottles and the fishing community encroaching in these areas. Now, they have arrived after a delay of almost six months.”
He added that other birds such as terns, waders, herons, and seagulls, have all been spotted at the site. “However, their numbers are falling drastically,” said Sahu.
Even Mumbai-based birders gave confirmation on the development after they spotted the birds on Sunday. “I spotted over 100 flamingos around 9.40am at the Talawe wetlands. Previously, there were isolated birds that would fly by but not settle at this wetland. It is absolutely wrong to construct at this site because it is clearly a wetland and has similar features of the Bhandup pumping station,” said Mrinal Ghosh, birder and Chembur resident.
Despite the delay, the arrival hold holds significance in the wake of an affidavit submitted by Mistry Constructions Pvt Ltd. to the Bombay HC in response to another petition by the Navi Mumbai Environmental Preservation Society regarding the proposed airport at Navi Mumbai. It is claimed by the private company that the site isn’t a wetland and mentioned that in an earlier report submitted by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) had inaccuracies and contradictions regarding proposed declaration of the site as an important bird area (IBA). “I say that the project has been seemingly singled out for such observations, which runs contrary to previous reports by BNHS. In any event, the site for the said project (golf course proposed by CIDCO) is not a wetland..,” reads the affidavit.
The petitioners now plan to submit the arrival of flamingos as evidence in court during the next hearing on June 13. “Spotting the near-threatened flamingos clarifies and confirms BNHS’ report and makes it a strong case for us to oppose this construction. The area needs to be declared a wetland bird sanctuary before it is too late,” said Agarwal.