Contractor pays ₹1L fine for destroying Uran mangrovesUpdated: Nov 19, 2019 00:18 IST
A state-appointed contractor has paid a penalty of ₹1 lakh to the forest department to ensure 4.5 hectares (ha) of mangroves in Uran, which were destroyed owing to construction activities, are restored. The development comes a year after HT had reported about large-scale mangrove destruction in Uran.
The information was revealed last week in a Right to Information (RTI) response from the state forest department on a query filed by Navi Mumbai-based environment group NatConnect. According to the response, the contractor, ITD Cementation India Ltd, appointed by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), has paid the amount for destroying 4,550 mangrove trees at container terminal 4, where the state has proposed a hovercraft jetty.
While JNPT refused to comment on the issue, a spokesperson from ITD Cementation India Ltd said, “As per the directives of the Bombay high court (HC)-appointed state mangrove committee and forest department, we have paid the requisite amount to cover the cost for the restoration of mangroves for this project.”
The contractor was found guilty of blocking free flow of tidal water to mangroves, said SA Kadam, range forest officer, Uran, who signed the response.
“The penalty will be used to open up blockages to the tide water ingress, digging up of channels and fresh plantation or mangroves at the site,” said Kadam.
Between June and December 2018, HT had published six case studies, highlighting how 9,500 mangrove trees were destroyed in Uran across 10ha through the dumping of debris or by cutting off high tide water, owing to JNPT’s construction activities.
BN Kumar, the director of NatConnect, had first filed the RTI query with the state environment department, which forwarded the application to Raigad district administration. The administration then asked the forest department to respond on the query.
“These actions are too little and too late. Mangrove destruction is prevalent unabated all across Uran, with fresh cases of reclamation across notified wetlands, and expansion of highway projects eating into reserved mangrove forest coming to light,” said Kumar
He added that authorities have also taken action against those dumping debris on mangroves at Ranjanpada and creeks at Karanja, Khopta.
“Some of the areas where violations were reported fall under the jurisdiction of the district administration and they have been informed about necessary action,” he said.
Meanwhile, JNPT has proposed to develop an additional 110 hectares for its hovercraft jetty container terminal 4, which may lead to more destruction across Uran. While 90ha has been developed for the terminal, JNPT had obtained environment clearance from the Centre in 2008 to develop a total of 200ha.