In a proposal shared with the Environment Ministry, the Maharashtra government has suggested to create an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) around the Thane creek flamingo sanctuary. The designated buffer zone, however, does not provide shelter to salt pans, mangroves and mud flats situated on the Northern and Southern part of the sanctuary. The final ESZ declaration notifications from the Environment Ministry are expected around November 2019.
The 1,690.52-hectare sanctuary is home to 167 bird species. As per the suggestion given by the State government, a buffer zone of 3,405.99 hectares has been proposed, expanding from 0 to 3.5 km around the sanctuary.
Further, the proposed ESZ extends on the Eastern and Western areas of the Thane sanctuary and constitutes nine villages - Mandale, Turbhe, Vikhroli, Deonar, Kanjur, Hariyali, Nahur, Bhandup and Mulund. However, despite mangroves, salt pans and mud flats, the State government did not include the Northern and Southern parts of the sanctuary in the ESZ.
It is to be noted that a directive issued by the Supreme Court (SC) in December 2018 ordered the Union Environment Ministry to declare ESZs around 21 wildlife sanctuaries and national park without any buffer zones. Despite this, the State government did not share any proposal with the Centre to declare any ESZ around Deolgaon Rehukuri Sanctuary in Ahmednagar district, Thane sanctuary and Malvan Marine Sanctuary in Sindhudurg.
On intervention by the apex court to declare 10-km ESZ around all the three sanctuaries, the State government said that the same was not possible for the Thane sanctuary. However, it proposed a 3.5 km buffer zone for the Thane sanctuary.
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