In a global recognition of its campaign to save mangroves and wetlands, Navi Mumbai-based not-for-profit startup NatConnect Foundation has won two gold and four silver awards under various categories at the annual SVUS (Silicon Valley United States) awards programme.
A tongue-in-cheek campaign #SarUthakeThuko by another local NGO Samachar Foundation to create awareness against the ills of spitting in public places has won a global bronze from the California-based SVUS Communications under the Covid-19 Business Response Awards.
The NGO highlighted the menace of spitting in public places during the pandemic.
From the Prime Minister to the High Court-appointed Mangrove Committee, NatConnect has moved the authorities to check mangrove destruction by Navi Mumbai SEZ, JNPT and the threat to the sea forest from the upcoming Bullet Train project. The campaign helped generate awareness among the people on the need to preserve biodiversity and alert the powers that be.
Japanese infra agency JICA that is financing the Bullet Train project has promised NatConnect that it would keep a tight vigil on the environmental compliance.
NatConnect’s efforts along with other environmental groups have led to the High Court-appointed Mangrove Committee halting destruction of mangroves and wetlands in Uran. The Environment Minister has even halted fresh construction at Panje wetland following the concerted campaign.
“The awards are a great recognition of our team efforts and they give us added strength to pursue with our mission to protect the environment which has been facing destruction under the guise of development,” said B N Kumar, who heads both NatConnect and Samachar Foundation.
Expressing his happiness at the Mangrove Committee halting the widespread destruction of mangroves and wetlands by Navi Mumbai SEZ at Pagote and Bhendkhal in Uran, Kumar said that nothing much has been done in terms of correcting the situation. Despite the committee’s direction to preserve Panje wetland, there have been repeated violations there.
NatConnect, Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, and Paaramparik Machhimar Kruti Samiti have been campaigning for getting the status of a bird sanctuary to Panje wetland and develop it as a tourism destination to help generate socio-economic activity in the backward region.