Mumbai: Shiv Sena corporator Sheetal Mhatre has raised the issue of the wetlands in Mumbai, which are rapidly disappearing due to illegal encroachments and dumping of debris. Mhatre has demanded that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) revamp the mudflats and make them tourist attractions.
According to Mhatre, the number of flamingos and other migratory birds which visit the wetlands every year, has decreased due to human activity in these areas. She said debris dumping is rampant, as is illegal encroachment, due to the negligence of the BMC.
"There is a need for conservation of mudflats in Mumbai. Encroachments should be stopped immediately. The BMC should identity the total number of wetlands and conserve them," said Mhatre, who is the chairman of the law committee.
Mumbai is home to many mudflats, as it is by the sea. Every year, thousands of flamingos and other birds fly into these mudflats, as these areas are not only a safe habitat for flamingos in winter but also have adequate food. They inhabit these areas from October to March. Other avian species also come to feed at the mudflats.
In Mumbai mudflats can be seen at Gorai, Malad, Sewri, Bhandup, Oshiwara and Mankhurd. Flamingos live here for about six to seven months, returning to their homeland before the monsoon.
The swampy area below the creek is rich in nutritious food for these migrants. Crabs, fish, molluscs, green algae and aquatic insects, are available in abundance.
The mudflats of Mumbai have been neglected for years. Construction has been carried out at several spots along the wetlands. Damping, walling and other construction has reduced the area of wetlands.
"There is abundant biodiversity in wetlands. Protecting them is essential to enhance tourism. The court has taken serious note of this and has given important instructions to the public. We have to take the view that we have the opportunity to save nature", said environmentalist Stalin Deshpande.