Once a tiny hamlet on the eastern shore of Parel, one of Mumbai’s seven original islands, Sewri is now an industrial hub with only a handful of residential pockets. Among other things, Sewri is known for one of the city’s biggest cemeteries, a large shipyard, mangroves and, in the cooler months, hundreds of pinkish-white lesser flamingos flying in from Kutch.
Anyone who knows about mudflats will tell you that low tide is the worst time to be there. It is when garbage and plastic waste are either lodged in the mud or found floating in small puddles slick with effluent. Come flamingo season and even low tide begins to look attractive.
It’s not the leggy vision in pink alone that attracts hundreds of birdwatchers to Sewri every year. Adding multiple hues to the grey mudflats are other winged visitors like greater flamingos, sandpipers, greater spotted eagles, herons and black-bellied terns.
But the future of the mudflats and its seasonal visitors is far from colourful. Already facing grave ecological damage, the mudflats may just sink under the weight of a trans-harbour link (read a long, winding bridge) from Sewri to Nhava in Navi Mumbai. The link is the brainchild of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which promises to spend ₹800 crore, around nine per cent of the project cost, on environmental concerns. Only time will tell if this promise was made to be kept.