PANJE - THE LAST WETLAND

Documentary - DD National

Wetlands are one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. These marshes, swamps and lagoons are a critical part of our natural environment. 

AishwaryaSridhar_Panje_Landscape_1129.jpg

WHAT IS HAPPENING

They sequester carbon, improve the quality of ground water and act as a flood barrier. However, these pristine ecological hotspots are also the first to be cleared for development as they are often termed as Wastelands. The ecological or the economic impact are seldom considered by decision makers. 

The town of Navi Mumbai used to have over 4000 hectares of wetlands and mangroves, where lakhs of migratory birds used to visit in winters. Today only 2 wetlands of approximately 250 hectares each remain- Panje at Uran and Talawe at Seawoods. Both these wetlands are biodiversity hotspots and critical stopover sites on the Central Asian Flyway.

The Talawe wetlands border a mega-residential complex and every year see record number of flamingos visiting it. Whereas, the indigenous fishing communities depend on the Panje wetlands at Uran for their livelihood. 

However, both these sites along with their buffer areas have been chosen for development by the City Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO). Despite environmental assessment impact reports stating that these wetlands are critical sources of ecology and of livelihood for the local people, CIDCO had given the nod for landfilling to commence.

Though the Panje wetlands at Uran are classified as Coastal Regulation Zone-, which prohibits development, CIDCO has leased it for the creation of luxury residential complex. 

Landfilling had begun in the buffer areas, destroying the mangroves. The blocking of tidal water inlets led to the wetland drying up completely and a few injured juvenile greater flamingos died as well due to starvation. While capturing this story, I received threats from the land mafia to stop my work, but I continued unafraid. Images from my story have been used as proof for a Public Interest Litigation filed at the Bombay High Court to protect these wetlands. The images acted as a catalyst and the High court has immediately stopped reclamation work and has proposed that the two wetlands be declared a Flamingo sanctuary.

The Mangrove Committee and Maharashtra Wildlife Board have also given their approval for the bird sanctuary at Panje and Talawe. 

Watch the Full Movie 

A decade ago, Uran was a land rich in bio-diversity. After the clearance of NMSEZ, the entire habitat of migratory birds was destroyed except one- Panje. Today, this wetland is the only hope for all those migratory birds coming from Siberia and Greenland. The Panje wetlands act as lungs for Mumbai; already choking with high pollution levels. The wetland is beautiful and on the crossroad of change. The film, ‘’Panje-The Last Wetland’’ showcases the change; Uran has witnessed over the years and hopes to save this last adobe of avian paradise.

Official Selection For 

9th Jagran Film Festival 2018

KVIFF 2019

CMS Vatavaran 2019

Nominated for Best Film

9th NSFFI

NexGen Short Film Festival 2019

''Excellence in Short Film Award''

National Premier on DD NATIONAL