Green panel asks Maharashtra government to expedite transfer of mangrove land

Representational photo.(HT Photo)
Representational photo.(HT Photo)
Updated on Dec 24, 2020 12:27 AM IST
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ByG. Mohiuddin Jeddy, Navi Mumbai

The Bombay high court-appointed Mangrove Protection and Conservation Committee has asked the concerned agencies to expedite the process of transferring the unreserved sea forests to the state forest department.

The Bombay high court had on October 6, 2005, directed the state to hand over mangrove areas to the forest department. The HC reiterated its order on September 18, 2018.

Amid continued mangrove red-tapism, environmental groups have complained about fresh cases of destruction of the sea forest in Gorai, Bhayander, Uttan in the West and Ulwe and Kharghar in the East.

Environmental groups NatConnect Foundation and Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan had written to the high court-appointed Mangrove Protection and Conservation Committee to inspect these areas immediately and book the culprits.

The Mangrove Committee chairman and Konkan divisional commissioner Annasaheb Misal said, “As per the honourable high court’s direction, we have asked various district collectors of Mumbai, Mumbai suburban, Thane and Raigad to notify and transfer all mangrove lands to the forest department at the earliest for proper conservation.”

“The land that is not yet transferred has to be measured and surveyed. A proposal has to be prepared and then it has to be notified. The process is currently on,” Misal added.

NatConnect Foundation director BN Kumar, said, “We are happy that Misal has asked for expediting the handing over process. We hope that it will be completed by the next monthly meeting of the committee,”

Environmental agencies, locals and fishing community leaders have been up in arms at the inordinate delay in handing over the unreserved mangroves to the forest department. “This mangrove red-tapism has been killing the life-saving plants in Uran and across MMR,” said Kumar.

There has been widespread destruction of mangroves and burial of wetlands in Kharghar’s Sector-16 in particular, said activist Nareshchandra Singh who has sent several complaints to the environment department and the mangrove committee. If this destruction goes unchecked, Kharghar will face floods, Singh said while speaking at a webinar ‘Wake up Call for Kharghar’ organised by NatConnect.

At the webinar, birder Tarang Sarin said, “It is the duty of all of us to protect the beautiful biodiversity of Kharghar.”

Appreciating the Mangrove Committee chairman’s move, Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, said the directive has to be taken seriously. Implementation is very important.

NGO Vanashakti has already served notice to various authorities for contempt proceedings for not complying with the Bombay high court orders of 2005 and 2018.

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