By Rajshri Mehta
Enthusiastic birders flocking to Thane creek can shortly expect to find an exclusive patch splashed with pink and white.
A flamingo sanctuary is proposed to come up on nearly 21 acres along the creek near Bhandup.
The state forest department said an official notification would soon be issued regarding the land demarcation.
"The government is keen on setting up the sanctuary. Though a major chunk of land is owned by the state, it still needs to be notified. We hope to complete the process (of notification) in 2014," said principal secretary of forest department, Praveen Pardeshi.
The area will get protected forest status once the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests gives its clearance and notifies it as a sanctuary. "There is an urgent need to protect the habitat. Once the area gets sanctuary status, we can deploy forest guards," said a forest officer.
At present, flamingos are not protected as the forest department has no control over the area. Fishermen frequent the mud flats for crabs that cause disturbance. Birdwatchers said there was an active gang, which hunted flamingos for its meat. Though some of the gang members were arrested, clandestine poaching continues.
The government's move follows a proposal to protect the birds and mudflats along the Thane creek submitted by non-profit organisation Vanashakti to the government.
Project director at Vanashakti, Stalin D said: "The mangrove forests along the creek in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane witness the arrival of a variety of migratory birds like lesser flamingo, greater flamingo, pied avocet, painted stork and spot-billed duck."
Apart from putting up signage and information kiosks, the project importantly involves bio fencing the periphery of the pond with tree species that can tolerate traces of salinity in the soil. Tropical evergreen species native to peninsular India would be planted around the 21 acres periphery.
Care will be taken to plant trees of various species. Saplings will be protected with metal guards and security guards will be deputed to keep away rag pickers and bovines, said the project report.
Thane is home to flamingos as well as other migratory and residential bird species. However, it has been observed that the number of the visiting birds has reduced drastically in the recent past. More....