One month for CIDCO to transfer mangrove land

May 18, 2023 11:43 PM IST

CIDCO has been given one month’s time by the State-appointed wetlands grievance redressal committee to hand over mangrove area to the forest department in line with the 2005 High Court directive to transfer all mangrove land to the Forest department

NAVI MUMBAI: The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) has one month’s time to hand over every bit of mangrove area to the forest department. During the monthly meeting held on May 16 by the State-appointed wetlands grievance redressal committee, the Mumbai suburban collector (additional charge) officiating as chairman of the committee instructed CIDCO to abide by the 2005 High Court directive to transfer all mangrove land to the Forest department.

HT Image
HT Image

“I have directed during the meeting that as per the law whichever area is declared as forest or mangrove should be handed over by CIDCO. In case if CIDCO wants any of the declared area for their own purposes then relevant permission is to be taken as per the Forest Act,” said Mumbai Suburbs Collector Rajendra Bhosale.

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The directive has come after environmentalist and member of the committee, Stalin D during the meeting contended that there was persistent delays by CIDCO in handover of these areas. The activist had filed a contempt petition before the committee last year wherein the committee was apprised about vast hectares of mangrove land being retained by CIDCO. “My contention has been that there is an order by the High Court in which it has been clearly stated that mangrove land is to be handed over to Forest department. CIDCO ought to comply with the order first before raising any kind of arguments,” said Stalin.

For city-based activists rallying to conserve the mangrove belts across the Panvel–Uran region as well as Navi Mumbai region, the directive has come as a shot in the arm. Advocate Pradeep Patole, petitioner of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) highlighting the destruction happening of mangroves in the city, states the directive must be addressed not just to CIDCO but every other authority whose coordination will be needed to get this task accomplished.

The advocate has been consistently writing to CIDCO and Revenue department and has even acquired extensive data detailing the exact number of mangrove belts still to be transferred to the forest department. “ The directive is much needed but it must be given in writing not just to CIDCO, but to every agency involved because the foremost issue faced in this matter is the non-tallying of the existing land usage with that of the 7/12 extracts with the Revenue department,” said Patole.

In October 2022, the advocate submitted a detailed break up of the mangrove belts still to be transferred. In Navi Mumbai total of 13.662 hectare of mangrove area is identified to be transferred. In the case of Panvel region, the advocate has provided village wise bifurcation. “ It is extensive data wherein I have identified mangrove existing in small parcels or dense regions. This also includes creeks and mudflats,” he said.

Forest officials present during the meeting stated that they are awaiting for written instruction in this regard and taking necessary steps accordingly. Meanwhile Stalin has stated filing contempt petitions with the High Court if CIDCO fails to abide by the directive. “ CIDCO has to comply with the 2005 court order as it is the environment which is at stake,” he said. Repeated attempts to get in touch with CIDCO officials went unanswered.

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