It was a memorable occasion for nearly 10,000 villagers of Bhandup as State Forest Minister Babanrao Pachpute laid the foundation stone of the Mangrove Wetland Center. Villagers are hoping that that the Mangrove Wetland Center will offer them jobs as guides, boat riders, guards once the center is ready. The state government’s forest department has joined hands with NGO Conservation Action Trust to develop the 452-hectare wetland between Bhandup and Kanjurmarg as a Mangrove Wetland Centre, the first of its kind in India. Debi Goenka – the Executive Trustee of CAT said that with the art visitor center, orientation center, nature trails, bird ponds, boat rides, flamingo watch – the Mangrove Wetland Center will attain international repute. State Forest Minister Babanrao Pachpute said that Tsunami was nature’s way of teaching humans the importance of mangroves and he was glad that they have undertaken a project that will save 600 hectares of mangrove land. Speaking to NMTV News, the Minister said that the project will save mangroves else they will be destroyed for concrete jungles. The Minister’s reply however endorsed the failure of the state to conserve mangroves. When we put forth this question, he went defensive. Most environment and mangrove cases in courts are against government organizations like CIDCO, MHADA and NMMC pointing out that the government was party to environment destruction. Surprisingly the Minister did not disagree and said that it will not happen henceforth. The irony of the event was the conspicuous absence of State Environment Minister Ganesh Naik who reportedly for some reason was not invited for the event that was a state government initiative. But there is no denying that the center is a promising sign for conservation of mangroves. With cameraperson Vikrant Baile, Zeba Warsia for NMTV News.
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