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Agencies told to mark 50 metre buffer zones for Mumbai’s mangroves

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, includes mangroves in the most ecologically sensitive category.

mumbai Updated: Dec 13, 2018 23:32 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
mumbai news,mangroves,mumbai mangroves
The HC, in its order, had said dumping of debris or garbage is prohibited within 50-metre buffer area of mangrove trees and the state needs to protect such zones at all costs. (HT file photo )

Three months after the Bombay HC directed the state to take steps to preserve mangroves, the suburban collector’s office issued directions to various departments to begin demarcating 50-metre buffer zone, identified as coastal regulation zone (CRZ) I, along mangrove forests.

The district administration has asked agencies including Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada), revenue officers, Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to plot the 50-metre buffer area on maps and later, physically demarcate them on ground.

“Following the HC order and the coastal zone management plan (CZMP) maps that were published last month by the state environment department, the exact demarcation of CRZ1 areas are now available to all authorities. We have directed them to demarcate the exact boundary using official maps under section 154 of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act and submit them to us. Once approved, fencing of the areas will be done,” said Satyanarayan Bajaj, deputy collector, Mumbai suburban.

The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, includes mangroves in the most ecologically sensitive category.

“Marking the buffer area on the creek side is not as important as along the landward areas to keep development at bay,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.

“We will assist planning authorities when they carry out on-ground demarcation,” he said.

The HC, in its order, had said dumping of debris or garbage is prohibited within 50-metre buffer area of mangrove trees and the state needs to protect such zones at all costs. A member of the state mangroves committee said it had been decided that geotagged pillars will be constructed along the 50-metre buffer.

“Fences will be done using barbed wires or bio fencing (lined with trees or shrubs),” said Stalin D, member of the state mangroves committee.

The petitioner in the HC matter said it was essential that BMC, mark the buffer zone in the development plan (DP), which has not been done yet.

“All planning bodies need to coordinate. They need to consider the mangroves that existed as of CRZ notification 1991, and not what exists today as mangroves destroyed over the past three decades need to be accounted for,” said Debi Goenka, executive trustee, Conservation Action Trust.

First Published: Dec 13, 2018 23:31 IST