BMC Awaiting Wildlife Clearances to Translocate Coral Reefs for Coastal Road Project

BMC Awaiting Wildlife Clearances to Translocate Coral Reefs for Coastal Road Project

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has sought wildlife clearances for the translocation of 18 coral colonies situated in Worli and Haji Ali. These colonies will be translocated to Colaba, Geeta Nagar in Navy Nagar, and Marine Drive. The BMC’s application seeking the required clearances have also been sent to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Wildlife, for the final approval.

This will be the first such project to be undertaken in Mumbai, while it will be the second on Maharashtra’s coastline with over 2,600 coral fragments translocated near Malvan coast in Sindhudurg previously. This project was conducted by the Mangrove Cell and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

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The BMC had sought wildlife clearances from the Mangrove Cell and the State Forest Department in early September for the translocation of the 18 coral colonies. However, the agencies sought more clarification on the justification for the project as well as its legal issues among other concerns. As a result, the project was stalled. On October 12, the Mangrove Cell sent the application to the PCCF (Wildlife) for the final clearance.   

It’s worth mentioning that the process of translocating corals on Indian coastlines is still considered new to the country with pilot projects currently underway off the coast of Lakshadweep islands, Kutch, and Tamil Nadu to study the feasibility of this process. 

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Experts have said that environmental factors will be key for the survival of the translocated corals. This will include making sure the corals are relocated to an environment that has the same depth range, current flow, pressure, and light as its first home. It is said that corals found across the Mumbai coastline are non-reef building and generally considered to be fast-growing. 

Marine biologist Roshni Yathiraj who is also a project manager with Reef Watch Marine Conservation said - “If you see a picture of corals, you will see many tiny pores in them, it is one animal that multiplies and creates a colony. Within one colony, there many such animals living there and they are genetically identical to each other. All you need is one of those animals, a fragment as big as finger-tip, to regrow at the new location. We haven’t tried the method of cultivating a nursery, we pick up the fragment and move instantly within a radius of 10 to 50 metre.”

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