#WakeUpForWetlands

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The destruction of wetlands is a concern because they are some of the most productive habitats on the planet. They often support high concentrations of animals—including mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates—and serve as nurseries for many of these species. Wetlands also support the cultivation of rice, a staple in the diet of half the world’s population. And they provide a range of ecosystem services that benefit humanity, including water filtration, storm protection, flood control and recreation.

Without wetlands, cities have to spend more money to treat water for their citizens, floods are more devastating to nearby communities, storm surges from hurricanes can penetrate farther inland, animals are displaced or die out, and food supplies are disrupted, along with livelihoods. WWF, governments and other organizations have pursued efforts to conserve and protect wetlands for more than 40 years through the Ramsar Convention, the only international treaty devoted to a single ecosystem type. More than 476,000 acres of wetland have been protected through this treaty, saving them and their services for future generations. - https://www.worldwildlife.org/habitats/wetlands

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MMR have been losing its wetlands.

Like any other Day of the so-called importance, each year, we celebrate World Wetlands Day with seminars (now webinars), speeches and contests. Then we forget about it.

Mumbai Metropolitan Region has been blessed with lots of Wetlands. You will be surprised to know that in Raigad district alone, the administration has identified 130 wetlands.

Wetlands International South Asia (WISA) says Mumbai lost 71% of its wetlands between 1970 and 2014.

Outside the island city, MMR is still blessed with some wetlands which are under heavy attack.

Its is not any private landshark who is devouring the wetlands, but the faulty planning and urbanization with scant respect for the environment that is causing the irreparable loss.

CIDCO, the city planner, has allotted mangrove zones and wetlands to infrastructure companies such as NMSEZ and JNPT who are just burying with truckloads of debris and earth.

As we were protesting, over 500 acres of wetland at Dastan (Jasai) has been turned into a dust bowl with a landfill done on a war-footing by JNPT under the guise of development under 12.5% compensation scheme for the project affected people. The project affected ought to have been given compensation from the already developed land and not with fresh destruction of nature.

BNHS has in its official Baseline Study of Birds at Navi Mumbai International Airport has spoken of several wetlands and how they attract migratory birds. The study is still available on CIDCO website and no government agency has disputed the findings. It is sad that even before the airport project, the other projects such as NMSEZ and JNPT have been causing immense harm to our wetlands.

Wetlands are supposed to be urban sponges and they are nature’s gift to mankind as a flood control mechanism. In their absence, water finds its own course. This is commonsense. But our urban planners ignore this. Results: flooding of Uran villages and paddy fields with saline water.

The disappearance of wetlands (along with mangroves) is having disastrous effect on the fishing community who are losing their source of survival by the day.

This development is causing destruction of lives and livelihoods.

Hence this digital agitation. Let us tell the policy makers, the implementors and urban planners to:

·      Spare our wetlands from turning into concrete jungles

·      Protect some wetlands such as Panje and Talawe as Bird Sanctuaries

·      Maintain floodplains under the River Regulatory Zone on the banks of all rivers – both monsoon and perennial

·      Above all, learn from experience of floods and allow the people to live with dignity – their constitutionally guaranteed right!

Please sign and request others to sign and strengthen this digital agitation.

Yours sincerely,

 

B N KUMAR

Director – NatConnect Foundation