The government has notified an area of 48.32 sq km around the boundary of Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary as an eco-sensitive zone, the ministry of environment, forest and climate change said. The eco-sensitive zone varies from 0 to 3.89 km around the boundary of the flamingo sanctuary, in the Mumbai Suburban district.
The zone is meant to act as a buffer for protected areas and reduces developmental pressures around a wildlife sanctuary or national park. The draft, which was sent to the ministry by the Maharashtra government in March, was published in an official gazette on Apr 30. It invited people to submit their suggestions and objections to the notification within 60 days.
The boundary of the eco-sensitive zone extends to the limit of mangroves in the west of the sanctuary, and the entire width of the Thane Creek and adjoining Navi Mumbai Mangrove area in the east. On the southern side, the boundary of the sanctuary borders the Vashi Bridge and further south is the commercial part of Thane Creek, which does not add any value to the sanctuary, as per the official statement.
In the north, the eco-sensitive zone is limited to 2.2 km and includes the northern part of the creek and mangrove patches on government land. Spread across 1,690.5 ha in Mulund, Vikhroli, Bhandup and Kanjur, Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary is home to 12 mangrove species, 39 categories of mangrove species, 167 species of birds such as flamingos, 45 fish species, 59 species of butterflies, 67 insect species, and mammals like jackals, among others. While highly polluting industries and mining activities are prohibited in the Eco-sensitive Zone, certain activities, which will be regulated, are listed in the final notification.
They include construction of hotels and resorts as well promotion of eco-tourism, but not within 1 km of the boundary of the protected area or up to the extent of Eco-sensitive Zone, whichever is nearer. Agro-forestry, use of eco-friendly transport, cottage industries and organic farming will also be promoted. The zonal master plan will be prepared within two years from the date of publication of the notice, for the protection of the Eco-sensitive Zone, which is supposed to act as a transition zone from areas of high to less protection.