• A committee, chaired by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, has accorded wildlife clearance to the project which will encroach upon the TCFS and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, home to leopards, in Mumbai.
  • The proposal involves diverting 3.2 hectares of forestland from the TCFS and 97.5 hectares of land close to the boundary of the forest’s protected area.
  • The high-speed train corridor or ‘bullet train project’ was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
  • It is expected to be ready by 2022.
  • Ever since the project was conceived, there have been concerns about the impact of the construction, which will create enormous debris, on the sanctuary and the national park.
  • The drilling of underground tunnels will lead to sound pollution which will disturb the tranquillity of the sanctuary.
  • The project will entail cutting down several mangrove trees, a natural flood barrier.
  • In the aftermath of the 2005 floods, environmentalists spoke out against the declining mangrove cover for land reclamation projects.
  • The TCFS consists of 896 hectares of mangrove forests and 794 hectares of waterbodies.
  • It is on the western bank of the creek, between the Airoli and the Vashi bridges connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
  • It came into being in August 2015 and is Maharashtra’s second marine sanctuary, after Malvan.
  • The TCFS has been attracting flamingos in large numbers since 1994.
  • By November every year, over 30,000 flamingos, along with their chicks, occupy the mudflats and the bordering mangroves.
  • They stay till May, after which most of them migrate to Bhuj in Gujarat for breeding, leaving a small resident population.
  • Besides supporting a large congregation of flamingos, the area is a refuge for many resident and migratory birds.
  • In all, 200 species have been reported, even globally threatened species such as the greater spotted eagle and others such as osprey.
  • Other birds found here are the Pied avocet, western reef heron, black-headed ibis, common redshank, marsh sandpiper, common greenshank, curlew sandpiper, brown-headed gull, whiskered, gull-billed, Caspian and little terns.
  • The white-bellied sea eagle and Eurasian marsh harrier have been spotted too.