‘20-acre mangrove patch restored at Vikhroli after 5 years, one of the largest restorations in Mumbai’
In what the state mangrove cell calls one of the biggest restorations in Mumbai so far, a 20-acre mangrove patch in Vikhroli has been restoredmumbai Updated: Mar 29, 2017 11:54 IST
A 20-acre barren patch of wetland at the Vikhroli end of the Jogeshwari-Vikhlori Link Road (JVLR) in Mumbai was restored after a span of five years. The work was carried out for the past eight months and state mangrove cell officials have called it one of the largest mangrove restoration projects in Mumbai so far.
Last year in July, HT had reported that the area had lost 80% of its mangroves in five years and officials from the district collectors office had opened blockages to allow tide water to reach the wetland patch in the city’s eastern suburbs.
Bombay high court (HC), in July 2016, directed the state to take steps to restore the areas highlighted in the contempt petition by non-profit organisation Vanashakti over non-implementation of Wetland Rules, 2010, in Maharashtra. This was one of the largest patches.
“This site is a good example of how nature will restore itself if we make way. The tidal flow was restored and the mangroves are reviving,” said Stalin D, director, NGO Vanashakti. “The mangroves have covered almost 80% of the barren patch and grown to the height of four to five feet.”
District collectorate officials said that siltation had blocked most of the pipelines that had been developed to channel water to the wetlands. “Last year, we unclogged a pipeline using large suction pipes and removed silt and sewage. We asked the civic body to channel a path to supply water to the mangroves regularly during high tide. We conducted regular visits to the site and monitored the growth of trees,” said VJ Kanhekar, revenue officer from the area.
He added that majority of the mangroves were restored naturally. Only some saplings had been collected from the mangrove cell and planted at the site. “We will ensure that the site receives adequate water so that it is restored completely before the monsoons,” said Kanhekar.
State mangrove cell officials lauded the efforts and said that seven other mangrove sites in Mumbai will be restored with saplings within this year. “The ability of mangroves to rejuvenate themselves is spectacular. These are sturdy trees that do not need anything other than nutrients to settle over the top soil, which the high tide does. When the water recedes, mangrove roots absorb nutrients and oxygen,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell. “We have similar restoration projects underway at Chedda Nagar in Chembur, Manori-Gorai mangrove belt, Charkop and some small patches in Navi Mumbai.”
Environmentalists added that the state still needs to look at restoration at several other areas in Dahisar in Mumbai and some locations like Kasheli, Kahler, Uran and Bhiwandi. “For a city like Mumbai, mangroves are the first line of defence against floods. Also, considering the drought conditions that the state is facing, it is imperative to protect our mangrove cover,” said Stalin D.
Most common mangrove species around you:
Close to 80% of the mangrove cover across wetlands in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane is dominated by the grey mangrove (Avicennia marina) species. A fruiting mangrove plant with dark green leaves and is also the most common across Maharashtra.
Why should you care?
· Mangroves act as a buffer zone between land and sea, protecting the land from erosion
· Mangroves absorb the impact of cyclones
· They are a breeding ground for a variety of marine animals
· Mangroves also absorb carbon dioxide, making air cleaner to breathe
Currently, Mumbai has a total of 5,800 hectares (ha) of mangrove cover – 4,000 ha on government-owned land and 1,800 ha in private areas. While Navi Mumbai and the eastern end of Thane creek have a total cover of 1,471 ha, for the western bank of Thane creek it is 1,500 ha.