More mangroves in Sewri Bay could be under threat.
According to Vanashakti, a non-government organisation, Google Earth images indicate a blanket of black coke over a wide area of mangroves about one km from the area where around 30 acres of mangroves have already been destroyed. The mangroves are in proximity to a coal depot in the area.
“While one may not be able to spot the black blanket with the naked eye, satellite imagery over of the last five years shows that the mangroves in the area are heading towards death,” said Stalin D, director projects, Vanashakti. “The entire mangrove area in the Sewri Bay is under threat.”
On February 28, an HT report highlighted that 30 acres of mangroves at Sewri had been destroyed by what environmentalists believed was coking coal being offloaded close to the vegetation.
The land belongs to the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) and mangroves lie dead at the site that was declared as the Sewri Mangrove Park by the port trust in 1996. Damage to mangroves and carrying out non-forestry activities near mangrove areas is in violation of the HC orders.
The Bombay high court took suo motu cognisance of the report and issued notices to the Mumbai Port Trust and Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) asking them to file replies in two weeks.
On May 3, in an affidavit filed in the Bombay high court, MCZMA has blamed the port trust for large-scale destruction of mangroves in the Sewri mudflats. The destruction is likely to have been caused by extremely low salinity and an undetectable level of dissolved oxygen in water in the area, which was the result of construction of boundary walls by MbPT around small nullahs (rivulets) in the area.
On May 8, Vanashakti will file an affidavit in the Bombay high court countering the MCZMA’s claim that mangroves in Sewri are dying due to the blocking of tidal water.
“There is a huge open area from where the water enters the site and also drains out during low tide. Tidal flushing is happening regularly, so lack of water is certainly not the cause,” said Stalin.
“Passing the blame will only spell doom for this wetland bird habitat and the mangroves that live in it.”