From Four to 500: How citizens joined naturally to save nature in Kharghar

Synopsis: A small group of dedicated volunteers has managed to save Khargar wetlands.

Where is Kharghar wetland located?

It lies within Navi Mumbai. It is home to multiple species with natural environments like hills, green mangroves and lush grasslands.

Why this wetland was in danger?

Kharghar lakes were in danger of being encroached on and built over by brick kilns, shrimp farmers and slum extensions. The other reasons were human-made factors like man-made fires, air pollution from chemical units and brick kilns etc.

What conservation efforts helped in saving Kharghar?

Word of mouth communication & use of Social media: This mode helped to encourage people to join the efforts. Conservators grew into a big group, with IIT researchers, photographers, animal activists, retired officials, birders, writers, lawyers etc.

Help from officials: The help of officials of the Forest department, Municipal Corporation and other state agencies were taken for guidance and administrative support.

Judicial steps: Bombay High Court-appointed mangroves and wetlands protection panels to ensure that local spots rich with biodiversity receive protection and care.

Regular Checks: This was done to pre-empt encroachment and avoid illegal activities like quarrying, lighting fires on the hills or dumping debris in the water bodies.

Collaboration: Events have been organised around Kharghar’s natural treasures and collaboration with similar citizens groups.

What was the result of these conservation efforts?

Due to the above-mentioned activities, three Kharghar wetlands are included in the National Wetlands Atlas. Further, they also got listed in the Collector’s protected list.

Kharghar wetlands and hills group has also documented over 200 bird species like smooth-coated otters, black-headed ibis, painted storks and several IUCN Vulnerable category birds.

Source: This post is based on the article “From Four to 500: How citizens joined naturally to save nature in Kharghar” published in The Times of India on 4th September 2021.

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