During the first-ever Flamingo Festival in Navi Mumbai to mark the World Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation commissioner, Abhijit Bangar, said that while flamingoes are not exclusive to Navi Mumbai, the feeling of conserving them is.
The Thane forest department had informed that more than 1.30 lakh flamingoes visited the Thane creek this year, the highest in the last five years.
Addressing a large audience present at the auditorium of DPS School, where the festival was organised, Bangar said, “Flamingoes are seen in other cities as well but the feeling with which all have come here is only found in Navi Mumbai. The passion and the thought of conserving the flamingoes are found only in Navi Mumbai. No authority has given us the tag of being a Flamingo City and we are ourselves pushing for the same. In the last one year, we changed the face of Navi Mumbai by installing flamingo statues, painting flamingo murals and having a theme of flamingo for Swachh Survekshan. Because, when one thinks of Navi Mumbai, we want the image of Navi Mumbai to be that of Flamingo City, not just at the State and National levels but also at the international level.”
Bangar added that Navi Mumbai is blessed to have wetlands because of which there are flamingoes, but many do not know that these birds are very crucial to the ecosystem of the mangroves and the wetlands.
Environment activists, who organised the festival, appreciated the efforts of Navi Mumbaikars in spreading the awareness among public about flamingoes and claimed that it was the residents who were at the forefront in fighting for the wetlands.
“Even as the authorities were hell bent on destroying wetlands in the name of development, it was the citizens who came ahead and protected the wetlands,” Sunil Agrawal, an environmentalist, said.
Stalin Dayanand from Vanashakti NGO said, “It is the collective efforts of the people of Navi Mumbai that kept the wetlands protected.”
Bangar added that the platform should be used constructively and not to point fingers.
Meanwhile, children from the nearby NRI Estate had come with placards and awareness messages. “It is heartwarming to see children associated with awareness campaigns. When you want to pass on a message to the masses, always involve children because they absorb the message early,” Bangar said.
Besides hand paintings and flamingo dance moves being taught to children, the public could also see the flamingoes through telescopes installed near the DPS Lake.
“We have three telescopes and our staff near the lake explained to them about flamingoes and cleared people’s doubts. Till the afternoon period, flamingoes were there but later they flew away. They will return only by high tide, which is in the evening,” Mrugank Prabhu, scientist, migratory birds, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), said.
Lauding the efforts of hosting the first Flamingo Festival was a group of foreign nationals. The festival saw large turnout from residents and wildlife enthusiasts, among them were nationals from countries like Italy and Russia. Mirella Marinelli from Italy related that the sight of one or two flamingoes was enough for the media to go into a frenzy back in her country. “I asked my relatives to come down to the city to see the sight of lakhs of flamingoes,” she said.
Similar excitement was shared by five women from Russia. Married to Indians, the group stated that families back in Russia look forward to seeing pictures shot by them. “These birds are never seen in Russia, therefore we are considered extremely lucky by our families,” said Raisa Ved Zakirova.
Inputs by Sameera Kapoor Munshi