Centre to check bird-hit threats at Navi Mumbai airport

DGCA, IGF to look into bird-hit threats at Navi Mumbai airport

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, in its status report, indicated that the IGF-WL has been asked to look into the burial of wetlands

The 289-hectare Panje Wetland in Uran alone attracts 10,000 to 200,000 birds land during the migration seasons. Credit: NatConnect Foundation

In a significant development, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Inspector General of Forests (Wetlands) are separately looking into the environmentalists’ complaints of rising bird-hit threats to flights at the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) due to the rampant destruction of wetlands in and around the project area.

Activists have said that the indiscriminate destruction of wetlands and mangroves in Uran under the guise of development has begun to create a tussle among hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, thus forcing them to land in the upcoming NMIA area for nesting and roosting.

Environment NGO NatConnect Foundation filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the DGCA to know the mitigation measures planned for air safety in view of the bird-hit threats looming large.

The status report on the RTI site shows that two top officers from air safety and aerodrome standards are looking into the matter, said B N Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, in its status report, indicated that the IGF-WL has been asked to look into the burial of wetlands.

Read | PMO asks Ministry of Civil Aviation to check bird-hit threats at Navi Mumbai airport

As nature research body BNHS has cautioned way back in 2015, the destruction of wetlands by JNPT, NMSEZ and CIDCO is already forcing the birds to fly around in search of ideal locations for nesting and roosting.

“It is no rocket science, we can see the disappearance of birds from the traditional destinations such as Panje, Bhendkhal and Belpada wetlands in Uran and their newly found habitats elsewhere in the city,” said B N Kumar, director. NatConnect Foundation.

Describing migratory birds as ‘ambassadors of environment’, the activists have called for restoring their habitats and wetlands in line with the Environment Day theme #GenerationRestoration.

BNHS, which has been studying the bird flight pattern, said in its latest reports to the government that the bird-hit threat is on the rise as the wetlands are being destroyed and the birds have begun to land in the airport project area.

“We need to conserve whatever little biodiversity that is left and restore the major wetlands such as Panje,” said Dr Bivash Pandav, director of BNHS. “We have to convince the planners to spare this part of the area as it supports biodiversity,” Dr Pandav said as CIDCO drew up a development plan to create a township on the wetland.

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