Dr Salim Ali's 125th Birth Anniversary - Declare Panje as Bird Sanctuary

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We appreciate Prime Minister Narendra Modi for invoking Dr Salim Ali today in his Mann ki Baat address.

Modi recalled that “Dr. Salim Ali has done illustrious work in the field of bird watching – the avian world.”

“This has also attracted bird watchers of the world towards India. I have always been an ardent admirer of people who are fond of bird watching. With utmost patience, for hours together from morn to dusk, they can do bird watching, enjoying the scenic beauty of nature; they also keep passing on the knowledge gained to us. In India too, many bird watching societies are active,” Modi said.

“You too should connect yourselves with this subject. Amid the hectic routine of my life, recently in Kevadia, I also got a memorable opportunity to spend time with birds. Time spent among birds will bond you closer to nature, it will also inspire you towards the environment,” the PM said.

It is music to our ears that the PM talked a lot good about birds and his appreciated bird watchers.

Now, we request the PM and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to declare Panje Wetland in Uran as a bird sanctuary as a tribute to the ornithologist whose 125h birth anniversary is being celebrated on November 12.

Panje wetland, which attracts close to 500,000 migratory and local birds, is just not about the avian world. The wetland serves as a source of livelihood for the fishing community and represents the bio-diversity of Mumbai Metropolitan region (MMR).

The Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray had ordered stoppage of construction at Panje which has been sold to Navi Mumbai SEZ by CIDCO. It is high time that the government asks the local planning agency to annul the sale and save the wetland from getting converted into a concrete jungle.

The Bombay High Court appointed mangrove protection and conservation committee has already asked CIDCO and the Raigad administration to protect Panje as a wetland. The State Mangrove Cell evinced interest to conserve Panje and asked for transferring the wetland to it.

NMSEZ built an illegal compound wall around the 289 hectare Panje wetland and preventing fishermen and bird watchers from entering the area. This wall must go.

CIDCO has just lifted the sluice gates that it built without any CRZ clearance. This  barricade must be demolished for ever.

A bird sanctuary would need at last 15 cm water level constantly to attract birds and hence the intertidal water has to be allowed to flow freely into the wetland.

Apart from serving as a flood control mechanism, Panje sanctuary would help birds concentrate in one area rather than flying helter-skelter in search of finding new destinations at the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport. Birds in the vicinity of the airport could be disastrous for the flights, as a BNHS study report said.

Thanking you.

Yours sincerely

B N Kumar

Director - NatConnect Foundation