After being in pipeline for the last three years, the proposal to set up a Mangrove Wetland Centre at Bhandup has finally inched forward.
Two months ago, a team from the office of the Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) for western region based in Bhopal conducted a site inspection on the 452 hectares of marshland on the Eastern Express Highway.
“We did a site inspection. The report, with our comments, has been sent to the union ministry of environment and forests,” said A K Rana, CCF.
The timeframe for granting the clearance is not known. If approved, the Conservation Action Trust (CAT) will develop the centre in collaboration with the state forest department.
According to the plan, the visitors at the centre will be allowed to walk around the different species of mangroves and local and migratory birds. A crocodile research centre is also proposed within the premises.
The centre proposes to create awareness about the importance of mangroves. “Unless people are made aware of the importance of mangroves, they will not get the protection they deserve,” said Debi Goenka, member CAT.
Globally, there are two mangrove wetland centres – Hong Kong and Singapore. The Bhandup centre has a budget proposal of Rs 120 crore.
“The forest department will send its staff to be trained at these centres. We could also have experts from other centres to come here at the initial stage,” said Goenka.
Mangroves in Dahisar destroyed deliberately: SC
A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court has described Kandivli-based Ravi Builder’s act of destroying the mangroves in Dahisar as deliberate disobedience. “They have knowingly and purposely damaged the mangroves and other vegetation of the wetland of the CRZ-I area, which could not have been disturbed,” read the detailed order, which was made available on Tuesday. On Monday, the apex court, had directed the builder to open all the blocked culverts and drains to allow sea water intrusion within seven days.
The court also ordered the builder to remove all the excess debris and restore the height and width of the bund as on January 2010 within 60 days.
Last April, the builder began repairs of a bund (embankment), which had been defunct since 1993, following a SC ruling in his favour.
The ruling had categorically directed the petitioner not to destroy the mangroves.