The Maharashtra Forest Department is now looking ahead towards developing the infrastructure of the Bhandup Pumping Station (BPS) area in order to promote forest tourism within Mumbai.
Located in the Eastern suburbs, the BPS is an 11 hectare wetland known to be the entry point for the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary (TCFS) from the Mumbai side. The Thane Creek is home to nearly 234 species of birds.
Earlier in November, the Mangrove Cell of the forest department decided to charge entry fees to visitors entering the TCFS from the BPS area. In order to protect the sanctuary from intruders and miscreants the department had set up a permanent check post at the BPS wetlands.
The department on Wednesday stated that in November, the BPS area received more visitors than the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre (CMBC) at Airoli. The comparison was recorded on the basis of tickets being sold at both the places.
Between November 5 and 30, Bhandup had earned a revenue of Rs 1,05,650 while CMBC, Airoli had earned a revenue of Rs 1,01,416.
Speaking to the Free Press Journal, Virendra Tiwari, additional principal chief conservator of forest (Mangrove Cell) stated the figures were encouraging.
"We are in the process of further developing this area. Now that we are charging the people, we are planning to construct toilets for tourists. The idea of constructing a watch tower is also on the cards" Tiwari told FPJ.
He further mentioned that since checkpoints have been set up, the encroachments in the mangroves have stopped completely. "People used to come earlier also but now we are monitoring the number of visitors entering the premises Maharashtra Security Guards have been deployed who patrol the forest areas at night" Tiwari added.
Stalin D, environmentalist and director of NGO Vanashakti told that his NGO is trying to build a community programme in order to promote the ecology of this area. "The diversity in Bhandup could be easily seen and this area has the potential of becoming the best forest tourism spot in Mumbai. Many fishermen live in this area hence we are planning to work together with them in maintaining the water level of the lake so that more birds and flamingoes can migrate here in the future" Stalin told FPJ.