Mangroves along Palm Beach Road in Nerul destroyed, claim greens | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Mangroves along Palm Beach Road in Nerul destroyed, claim greens

BySameera Kapoor Munshi and Moinuddin Jeddy, Navi Mumbai
Aug 03, 2022 10:11 PM IST

Mangroves along the Palm Beach Road in Nerul is in need of preservation and conservation as they are destroyed, claimed the city environmentalists

More than 10 hectares of mangroves along the Palm Beach Road in Nerul is in need of preservation and conservation as there are repeated instances to destroy these natural habitats, claimed the city environmentalists.

Mangroves along the Palm Beach Road in Nerul. Environmentalists claim that mangroves are being destroyed. (BACHCHAN KUMAR/HT PHOTO)
Mangroves along the Palm Beach Road in Nerul. Environmentalists claim that mangroves are being destroyed. (BACHCHAN KUMAR/HT PHOTO)

A PIL was also filed by advocate Pradeep Patole highlighting the issue of the destruction of mangroves in the area. The entire Palm Beach Road is 8.4km while the mangroves along 4km are destroyed as CIDCO has not transferred the area to the Forest Department.

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Furthermore, the mangroves department has not done anything to get the area notified either.

Patole, in his PIL with the Bombay High Court in February 2022, sought that the entire area be notified under Section 4 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

In the PIL, the petitioner has highlighted his concerns about the mangroves surrounded by Seawoods Sectors 46A, 48, 48A, 42 and old 50 on the western and south-western side, and by Seawoods Sectors 27, 25,50 (New) and Uran Road on the southern side.

Patole pointed out that on the city’s nodal map, the mangrove belt is shown to be in plots with lucrative FSI. Thus, it won’t be long till these areas are grabbed by land sharks on the pretext of development. In some internal parts in Sector 50, dumping of debris has already begun.

The litigation was filed in response to mangrove protection and conservation control committee and forest department’s uncertainty whether the vast stretch of land is notified mangrove belt or not.

“The committee had contended that the area ought not to be a scheduled mangrove area and neither was the same found in the 2005 superimposed Google Earth on Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre (MRSAC) Map.

However, as per the report submitted by Divisional Forest officer of Mangrove Conservation Unit on February 1, 2022, the area was identified as mangroves but was not notified as a reserved forest area. The report acknowledged that there was damage to the area and it belongs to CIDCO,” Patole said.

The conflicting reports by the authorities on the areas prompted the advocate to pursue the matter with the court

“As per the new Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification 2019, the draft map prepared by National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), Chennai, the area falls under CRZ 1A and some part was coming as intertidal zone 1B with these still having many mangroves. It’s surprising that the mangroves committee findings are vague and misleading as they have referred to a map that has no bearing with the actual location,” the advocate said.

This is, however, merely one part of the angst of the greens. It has emerged that, including these 10 hectares along the Palm Beach Road, in total, around 30 hectares of mangroves – equivalent to the size of three Azad Maidan of Mumbai – under CIDCO in Nerul are yet to be handed over to the Forest Department for conservation despite a nearly four-year-old Bombay High Court order to save all the mangroves in the State.

The HC had asked to get the area notified and thereby compel CIDCO to transfer the land to the Forest Department. This, according to the petitioner, is necessary to prevent any development activity planned on the belt and prevent damage to the environment.

“Until January 2022, there were boards put up by CIDCO stating that the area belonged to them, indicating their plans to undertake development work. These were eventually removed only after we began raising the matter with the authorities,” informed Patole.

Thousands of mangroves in Uran are yet to come under protection despite CIDCO claims, said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishthan.

NatConnect Foundation director, BN Kumar, pointed out to the High Court-appointed Mangrove Protection and Conservation Committee. “The sea plants of about 20 hectares, adjoining the NRI and TS Chanakya wetlands, and 10 hectares in Sector 50 of Nerul behind Grand Central Mall are not covered under the protected list. The Mangrove Cell, in December 2021, released the map of notified mangroves that do not reflect the survey numbers corresponding to these 30 hectares as protected sea forests. Thus, the mangroves are open to destruction.”

Sudhir Manjare, Range Forest Officer, Mangrove Cell, said that they were in the process of getting mangrove areas transferred from CIDCO.

“Since the area is not notified, it is understood that it still belongs to CIDCO and we are in the process of getting all such areas transferred at the earliest,” he said.

CIDCO, which has maintained that it is committed to preserving the environment, refused to comment on the allegations.

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