Alarming Decline in Mutha River Bank’s Plant Diversity Sparks Environmental Concerns

A recent survey conducted by environmental researchers has raised alarms about the declining plant diversity along the Mutha River Bank in Pune. Spanning a 22-kilometer stretch between Khadakwasla and Bund Garden, the survey revealed a stark decrease in biodiversity, with only 243 plant species identified.

Comparisons with a survey conducted in 1958, covering a 12-kilometer stretch from Vitthalwadi to Yerwada, further illuminated the severity of the situation. The earlier survey documented 400 plant species, emphasizing a loss of approximately 200 plant species over the span of 66 years.

Variations in species distribution were evident, with Vitthalwadi exhibiting the highest count of 100 species, followed by Khadakwasla Dam with 93 species. In contrast, the Sambhaji Udyans backside area displayed the lowest diversity, documenting just over 60 species.

The research, led by Uma Kalamkar of Maharashtra Vruksha Samvardhini, Ankur Patwardhan from the Department of Biodiversity at Abasaheb Garware College, Pune, and the late Dilip Kulkarni, a Taxonomist with BAIF Development Research Foundation, emphasized the detrimental impact of river channelization on marshy lands as a contributing factor to the decline in biodiversity.

Kalamkar highlighted urbanization as a major driver of biodiversity loss, emphasizing its impact on landscapes and water systems, leading to environmental degradation.

Addressing this issue requires collaborative efforts. Recommendations include the construction of sewage treatment plants, halting deforestation, proper garbage disposal, and refraining from using cement near riverbanks. These measures are deemed crucial for mitigating further decline and restoring the ecological balance along the Mutha River Bank.

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