JICA has earmarked three embankments at Trombay, Nhava and Bhandup for the flamingos to roost

Mumbai: In a first, flamingos affected by the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link project (MTHL) will get three new embankments in Mumbai after the visiting birds were left with insufficient space for roosting. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will create these embankments for flamingos after their baseline survey revealed the drawbacks of the ambitious project.

JICA has earmarked areas of the intertidal zones of Trombay, Nhava and Bhandup to create embankments for flamingos to roost. An embankment will be created at Trombay near intertidal jetty, another one at Nhava near Training Ship Rahaman and one at Bhandup near the sewage treatment plant. These embankments will be created as part of a rehabilitation plan for the flamingos.

Flamingos basically display courtship behaviour during their roosting period. They also clean their feathers and look for favourable conditions for nesting during this period.

The baseline survey conducted by JICA between February-May 2016 revealed that there were only two large ponds at Tata Thermal Power Station that were used by flamingos for roosting. Around 16,000 to 20,000 flamingos gather at once near the two large ponds power station. Vivek Kulkarni, a Coastal Ecologist, said, “During the high tide, the ponds at the power station are filled with two feet water allowing the birds to cool themselves.”  The consultant also carried out a survey on the flight runs of the flamingos, roosting sites and general behaviour.

The baseline survey revealed that flamingos came to spots as close as around 200 metres from where the drilling work and shipping activities were being carried out.  “We found out that the flamingos were barely affected by noise and regular work. However, they were more affected by machinery movements,” added Kulkarni.

Kulkarni said that flamingos are likely to move as far away as 750 metres during the MTHL construction on account of the machinery movement.  “We hope that they return after the construction of the link in a similar manner when they returned after the Airoli bridge was constructed and thrown open to public use in January 1999,” said Kulkarni. “We observed that the flamingos usually don’t fly below the bridge, but above the bridge,” he added.

The survey also revealed that the flamingos use the big patch of mudflats on either side of Trombay. Also, Mulund, Airoli, Uran and areas outside Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) have patches of mudflats which the flamingos use as feeding grounds.

The baseline survey revealed that areas of Sewri, Mahul Bay and the stretch between Nerul to Nhava will be affected by the project. Around 35,000 flamingos throng the three spots. It is estimated that around 65,000 to 70,000 flamingos usually throng the stretch between Sewri and Mahul Bay.

The survey also revealed other birds that thronged the Sewri area -Ibis, Painted Storks, Open Bill Storks, Osprey and Spotted Eagle thronged the Sewri area. Wader birds like Great knot, Plovers, Curlews, Whimbrels, Stints and Shanks which come from places like Srilanka, Urasia and Siberia also thronged the Sewri area.

“We have submitted the rehabilitation plan to JICA and are waiting for their final approval”, added Kulkarni. The scope of the work for the MumbaiTrans- Harbour Link includes construction of 22 km long 6-Lane Bridge with interchanges at Sewri in Mumbai and at Chirle on Navi Mumbai side.

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