Inquiry ordered into fresh cases of mangrove destruction at UranUpdated: Jan 24, 2020 00:28 IST
The environment department and coastal regulation authority have ordered an investigation into fresh cases of mangrove destruction at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust’s (JNPT) 4th container terminal project in Navi Mumbai.
The investigation order comes days after Hindustan Times reported that raigad administration has stated destruction of 7,000 mangrove trees across two locations in areas outside the 19.5 hectare (ha) mangrove forest allotted for the 200-ha container terminal project.
After the district administration’s report, local environmental groups NatConnect with Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP) filed a complaint before the state.
On Tuesday, the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) wrote to the Raigad district collector, Konkan commissioner, to investigate the case ‘on priority’.
Sanjay Sandanshiv, undersecretary, environment department, said, “Prima facie there has been largescale mangrove destruction in violation of the Bombay high court (HC) orders on mangrove protection and the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notifications 1991 and 2011. We are awaiting a detailed report from the district administration to initiate further action against the port trust.”
The port trust obtained environmental clearance (EC) from the Centre in 2008 to reclaim 200ha to build storage yards, internal roads, railway lines, parking areas and office buildings for its new container terminal and marine chemical terminal project. The Raigad administration stated that mangroves outside the permitted site area were destroyed. Construction of railway tracks and a jetty had blocked the tidal water and destroyed close to 7,000 trees.
“From port expansion to road construction, JNPT has made a mockery of HC orders and despite repeated reminders failed to hand over mangrove land under their jurisdiction to the forest department,” said BN Kumar, director, NatConnect.
Satish Navale, sub-divisional officer, Raigad said, “I will personally visit sites where mangrove destruction has been observed on Friday and submit the final report to the state. We have already filed a case against JNPT in a local district court and fined their contractor for previous violations. Further action will be initiated as well.”
A senior JNPT officer, requesting anonymity, said only 16.5 of 19.5 ha mangroves had been destroyed for the project. “No other mangrove trees have been felled. Compensatory plantation in the form of terrestrial trees has been done for all mangroves lost,” he said.
“The promise of compensatory plantation in lieu of the damage done to the mangroves is a big sham,” said Nandakumar Pawar, head of SEAP. “Information obtained under right to information shows that JNPT planted terrestrial plants in lieu of mangroves killed. This does not serve the purpose of protecting the coast from flooding,” he added.