Maha seeks Ramsar status for Thane Creek, abode of Flamingos

The Maharashtra government has sought the coveted ‘Ramsar’ site status for the sprawling Thane Creek – the annual abode of the magnificent Flamingos and other migratory birds – on the northern and eastern coast of Mumbai.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday cleared a proposal to the effect which will be sent to the Centre for sanction to accord the Ramsar status for the mangroves, plus the surrounding swamps and wetlands that abound in rich marine life.

An official said that once the Ramsar status is granted it will boost tourism and conservation efforts besides creating jobs for the people in the region.

The proposal was first mooted at the State Mangrove Authority meeting in December 2021 chaired by Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray and finally approved on Thursday by the CM.

The Thane Creek Flamingo Reserve Forest covers around 17 sq km and attracts hordes of migratory big and small birds from different parts of the world, with the prime attraction being the Flamingos.

The state government has proposed a total area of around 65 sq km of the Thane Creek including the 17 sq km reserve forest, with the remaining already notified as an eco-sensitive zone since October 2021, to protect the flocks of migratory birds and the biodiversity of the entire swampy region, once visited by Prince Charles.

If accepted by the Centre, this will be Maharashtra’s 3rd Ramsar site, after the lush-green Nandur Madhmeshwar Forest in Nashik (Jan 2020), followed by the centuries old world-famous Lonar Crater Lake in Buldhana district (Nov 2020).

Thane Creek is a sanctuary for over 200 species of birds, butterflies (80), spiders (80), other insects (over 75), reptiles (30), fish (two dozen), crabs (dozen plus), mammals (04), etc, making it a favourite with the annual avian visitors.

The region also prevents soil erosion, flash floods and helps eliminate over 60,000 tonnes of carbon-dioxide from the neighbourhood dumping grounds, making them extremely critical to the city’s environment and the atmosphere in these times of global warming.

After the first Ramsar Conference in Iran in 1971, India became a signatory in 1982 to help protect lakes, rivers, ponds, swamps, creeks, coasts and even paddy fields in the global mangrove protection efforts, including 49 protected wetlands in India.

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