Navi Mumbai: A Supermoon ‘miracle’

The Supermoon phenomenon that occurred early this week has performed a small ‘miracle’ at the parched Panje wetland, which the environmentalists were quite literally begging the government to do. Due to the strong tidal effects of the Supermoon, the seawater at Panje breached the man-made bunds that were blocking the water movement and now several migratory birds have returned to the wetland.

A Supermoon occurs when the moon’s orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth at the same time it is full.

Bird-watchers were delighted to find several tagged greater sandplover birds, after nearly three years. The greater sandplover is a small, yet hardy, migratory bird which flies hundreds of kilometers from the central desert areas near Turkey.

The Supermoon effect has further encouraged environmentalists to continue their fight to permanently save the wetland. “Panje had been reduced to a dry land with the blocking of five tidal water inlets by vested interests despite an order from the National Green Tribunal to clear them. Some tidal water, however, flowed over the man-made bunds into parts of the wetland, thanks to the recent supermoon event,” said activist B N Kumar of NGO NatConnect Foundation.

Local birder Parag Gharat, who ventured out with his camera after seeing the waterflow, spotted many tagged birds in the last two days. After cross-checking with Bombay Natural History Society, the tagged birds were identified as greater sandplover ( Charadrius leschenaultii).

“The presence of migratory birds teach us the importance of maintaining our wetlands as they are urban sponges that absorb flood waters. Wetlands are home to several microbes which are essential for our biodiversity as we are taught in our schools,” Kumar said.

Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, regretted that most of the Panje wetland remained dry as water flow continued to be blocked by vested interests. “We just cannot understand how the officials can keep flouting the NGT order to clear the man-made blocks at the five water inlets,” Pawar.

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