Gasping for breath – Mangroves of Panje
The last wetland of Uran is breathing its penultimate dying gasp and will perish soon in the wake of development projects unless we wake up and take a firm stand to protect Panje.
In the first week of October, young conservationist Aishwarya Sridhar had visited the Panje wetlands at Uran to find it completely dry with the nearby mangroves dying due to lack of water. She chanced upon the sluice gate which CIDCO has constructed in complete violation of the recent High Court Order dated 17th Sept’18 by the Hon. High Court of Mumbai on Public Interest Litigation 87 of 2006. The only source of seawater for this mangrove forest is through a channel on which a culvert was built for access to the boundary wall. To her immense dismay, she found that a dam with sluice gates has also been built, and what is worse is that these gates operate only one way. In other words, these gates restrict the ingress of water during high tide but allow the water to drain back to the sea. It was noted that there is a minimal flow of water into the channel past the gates, but this was not enough to reach the areas where the mangroves exist. This was a sure shot way of destroying the mangroves so that the area can easily be taken up by them for so-called “development”. Aishwarya decided to click pictures with GPS data of the dried mangroves, the gates as well as the dried wetland as proof for the case.
As the next step, Ms Sridhar contacted-
Mr. Debi Goenka, Environmentalist
Mr. Sunjoy Monga, Environmentalist
Mr. Deepak Apte, Director BNHS,
Mr. Vasudevan, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Mangrove Cell,
Mr. Pravin Pardeshi, CM office,
Mr. Lokesh Chandra CMD Cidco,
Mr. Jagdish Patil, Konkan Commissioner,
Mr. Jayarame Gowda R, Deputy Conservator of Forest, Mangrove Cell, as well as the media. She sent them the images and informed them about the state of Panje.
After 10 days of continuous follow-up with the above-mentioned officials, CIDCO opened 68 of the 71 gates on 11th Oct due to the collective efforts of a lot of people involved in raising awareness of the situation and taking up the cause seriously of saving the last remaining wetland of Uran- PANJE.
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