Mumbai: The whole bird sanctuary has become plastic-free. Karnala bird sanctuary is situated near Mumbai-Goa highway and 12 k.m. away from Panvel in Raigad district. 12.11 square k.m. area of Karnala fort and surroundings has been declared as reserved forest as it has rich bird diversity. Birds gather here 24/7 as it is a home place for both local and emigrated birds. This is the first bird sanctuary in Maharashtra. Here one can watch birds from 147 species. 37 species are emigrated or tourist birds. There are 642 climber species and rare medicinal trees in this Karnala. Bush category trees are also there in this sanctuary.
Besides the bird watching, Karnala fort is another centre of attraction in this sanctuary. This fort holds a special place of interest for trekkers as the natural path going to fort is very tough to cross. Nature trails Hariyal and Mortaka that’s on the East of national highway are important for bird watching. Other nature trails Garmal lies to the west of the national highway. Many diverse trees exist on this path.
Thousands of tourists visit the bird sanctuary daily as well as on holidays. They carry food and water in the sanctuary. Again, plastic carried to the sanctuary was being lethal for the wildlife and environment. Forest guard officers of Karnala and forest guards held a meeting of nearby villages’ committees under the guidance of Forest Conservator, Wildlife Thane to come with a solution. As per the decision taken in the meeting, bags of tourists visiting the sanctuary were checked and the plastic they carried was noted. In the beginning, tourists had to pay Rs. 200 as deposit while entering the sanctuary.
Tourists would get back deposits if they returned with the exact plastic material carried. But tourists opposed to pay Rs. 200 as a deposit for a single plastic water bottle hence the amount was marked down to Rs. 100. If a tourist fails to return with the same plastic material, his deposit is confiscated, Tourist gave a positive response to this initiative. Rural Development Committee Kalhe charges per head Rs. 5 as annoyance fee.
The committee deploys daily wagers every Monday to clean garbage. Their wages are paid from the collected annoyance fee. Three Self- Help groups in the sanctuary are instructed to collect deposit amount for drinking water bottle and cold-drink bottles.
Awareness drive is conducted in various schools-colleges to make Karnala sanctuary plastic-free. A cleanliness drive is being implemented. Officer-bearers of various Rotary club branches have participated in this. Members of Sahyadri Pratishthan visit the fort every Sunday and clean the area. Karnala sanctuary area has become clean, beautiful, and plastic-free with everyone’s cooperation and discipline.