Coastal Road project not likely to affect arrival of seagulls: Experts

The Coastal Road Project is likely to not affect the arrival of the migratory seagulls at the Mumbai shoreline. Environmentalists, bird watchers and local residents living along the shoreline between Marine Drive and Worli have stated that, this year, only a few number of seagulls could be seen along the coastline and believe the ongoing construction work has driven them away.

However, experts and ornithologists stated that it’s not very likely that the ongoing construction has driven the birds from the shoreline. "Seagulls are very adaptive birds; they will come as they have been coming, but they will not stay here because Mumbai has never been their breeding ground," Isaac Kehimkar, chairman, Inature Foundation told the Free Press Journal.

Kehimkar said that Mumbai has been a temporary stop for the migrating seagulls. During the breeding season, they fly northwards to Ladakh every year. Around 50,000 seagulls flock over the maximum city every year. These birds mainly feed on fish and other marine organisms.

Members of the fisherfolk community had also alleged that the ongoing construction work has driven away the fishes towards the deep waters. "Fishes are dying and running away because of the chemical waste and pollution. This has nothing to do with the Coastal Road. This problem was present even before the project had started," Kehimkar added.

However, local residents and bird watchers stated that, this winter, the population of seagulls has dropped to half. "Nearly 100 seagulls could be seen in a flock every morning anywhere between Marine Drive to Worli. But this year, there are hardly 20 gulls in a flock," said Renil D'souza, a city-based bird watcher.

"Due to the reclamation, there is barely any shoreline left in the city. Till last winter, there were a good number of seagulls that would flock by the sea regularly," stated Preeti Sharma, a Worli resident.

For the ongoing Coastal Road project, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has already reclaimed 63 of the proposed 90 hectares of the sea. The civic body has also appealed that it would be reclaiming an additional 21 hectares for a sea wall.

"Presently, these birds are turning in less numbers as they might be scared because of the construction noise. However, their habitat won't be lost because I believe they will return to the sea as soon as the construction work is over," Ashok Mehra, a city-based ornithologist told the Free Press Journal.

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