Fresh satellite-based survey of mangroves in Maharashtra to assess destruction | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Fresh satellite-based survey of mangroves in Maharashtra to assess destruction

Apr 24, 2024 09:14 AM IST

Maharashtra Mangrove Cell allocates ₹4.36 crore for a satellite survey of sea forests to monitor mangrove growth across seven coastal districts.

NAVI MUMBAI: In a significant development, the Maharashtra Mangrove Cell has asked the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre (MRSAC) to conduct a fresh satellite-based survey of the sea forests along the state’s coastline to help understand the spread and destruction of mangroves.

Mumbai, India - April 13, 2018: Mangroves of Sewri Creek in Mumbai, India, on Friday, April 13, 2018. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times) (Representational Photo)
Mumbai, India - April 13, 2018: Mangroves of Sewri Creek in Mumbai, India, on Friday, April 13, 2018. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times) (Representational Photo)

The cell has set aside a budget of 4.36 crore, and the survey, which will take two years to be completed, will be conducted across the seven coastal districts of Sindhdurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Thane, Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban and Palghar.

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The state government established MRSAC to utilise and operationalise the use of space technology for managing and monitoring the natural resources of the state. It is recognised as one of the best centres in natural resource monitoring and management, coupled with GIS.

According to S V Ramarao, chief of Mangroves Cell, “We have asked MRSAC to conduct new satellite-based mapping on the current status of the mangroves in the state. The survey work has begun.” This survey holds high importance as the high court has given strict instructions on monitoring the mangroves in the state. “The study cycle takes around two years to complete. It will give an accurate picture of the growth of mangroves since the last survey and detail their absence compared to the previous record,” said Ramarao.

Meanwhile, despite a five-and-a-half-year-old order by the Bombay high court to conserve the sea forests, various agencies have yet to hand large tracts over to the mangrove cell. According to the official record of the high court-appointed mangroves committee, Palghar district leads the list with 1,277.58 hectares of mangroves that are yet to be transferred. It also gives the table of mangroves pending transfer from Sindhudurg district (58.1 ha), Ratnagiri (579.01 ha), Raigad (JNPA – 70 ha), Thane (2.69 ha) and Mumbai City (23.65 ha).

When asked about the issue, Ramarao said, “Not much remains. Only 2,011.36 hectares of mangroves are yet to be handed over to the forest department and we are expecting it soon in due course.”

He refused to comment or clarify the allegations that CIDCO is yet to transfer 1200 ha of land that it had promised to get done by October 31, 2023. There is no mention of it in the mangroves cell meeting held in January either leading to the mystery. CIDCO was unavailable for comments.

Welcoming the survey ordered by the mangroves cell, NatConnect director B N Kumar said, “The mangroves in the state are facing threats from various sources and the fact that several areas have not yet been transferred to the forest department makes it even worse. We, along with several environmentalists, have been regularly raising the issue of mangrove conservation with proof of destruction happening with the government. There is a need for serious action on the issue by all agencies. This study will certainly help the cause and should be used to correct the anomalies in the system.”

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