Blocked channels in Vikhroli have been unclogged to allow tide water to reach the dying mangroves on a 20-acre (8 hectare) plot.
The mangroves along Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) had lost 80% of its green cover after debris blocked channels that brought a daily influx of sea water. “Between the last week of June and July first week, we unclogged the channel using large suction pipes and removed silt,” said Prasad Nade, deputy collector, Mumbai suburban. “We expect mangroves to be rejuvenated naturally. We will constantly monitor the area.”
The restoration of water channels follows the Bombay high court direction last week, asking the state government to list the steps taken to restore mangroves in areas identified by non-profit organisation Vanashakti.
Officials from the state mangrove cell welcomed the action taken by the collectorate. “Water deposited in wetlands during high tide allows nutrients to settle over the top soil. When the water recedes, the roots absorb nutrients and oxygen. We hope the mangrove cover is restored by next year,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.
Environmentalists said the effort needs to be replicated across Maharashtra. “Wetlands bring water security especially for Mumbai. It is imperative for a state, that faces repeated droughts, to protect its wetlands,” said Stalin Dayanand, project director, Vanashakti. He said wetlands must be restored at Bhuigaon-Vasai, Thane-Bhiwandi road, Dahisar, Kasheli, Kahler and Uran.
Mumbai has 5,800 hectares of mangrove cover – 4,000 ha on government-owned land and 1800 ha in private areas. While Navi Mumbai and the eastern end of Thane creek have a of 1471 ha, 1500 ha was recorded at the western bank of Thane creek.
What are wetlands?
Wetlands are areas that are either temporarily or permanently covered by water depending on the seasonal variability. Natural wetlands comprise creeks, estuaries, marshes, riverbanks, seashores, backwaters, coral reefs. Manmade lakes, saltpans, reservoirs, abandoned quarries and dams are also considered wetlands.
Why you should care about mangroves?
Wetlands stabilise the coastline, control erosion and provide a habitat for plant and animal species, prevent floods and filter groundwater
The regulate climate change by storing carbon
They contribute to the country’s economy by providing fishery resources, timber, wildlife resources, medicines and agricultural products.