Mangrove conservation in Maharashtra gets a fillip, NGO sets aside Rs19.2cr for projects | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Mangrove conservation in Maharashtra gets a fillip, NGO sets aside Rs19.2cr for projects

Major projects include setting up of marine rescue centres and mangrove parks in state

mumbai Updated: Apr 08, 2018 00:21 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Mangrove ecosystem is found along water bodies such as sea, creeks, estuaries, lagoons.
Mangrove ecosystem is found along water bodies such as sea, creeks, estuaries, lagoons.(ht file)

The Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation of Maharashtra, an autonomous society that assists the state government in coastal marine conservation, has set aside a budget of Rs19.2 crore for 2018-19.

Some of the major projects planned for the financial year include setting up turtle and marine rescue centres along Juhu beach in Mumbai, Alibaug in Raigad and Dahanu at a cost of Rs55 lakh, with construction expected to be completed within a year and setting up mangrove parks in Dahisar and Gorai at a cost of Rs50 lakh.

The mangrove ecosystem is found along water bodies such as the sea, creeks, estuaries, bays, and lagoons. They are commonly found in inter-tidal areas – areas between the high and low tide, and provide breeding areas for aquatic animals and are vital to sustain coastal fishing areas. In Maharashtra, mangroves are found along 304 sq km of the coastline, covering 53 creeks and seashores.

“The wide range of activities proposed to be carried out by the foundation will give a boost to mangrove and marine biodiversity conservation in the state,” said N Vasudevan, executive director of the foundation and additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell, adding that during a meeting on March 16, the projects were shortlisted, and the budget was sanctioned earlier this week . “There are programmes for mangrove protection and regeneration, coastal livelihood and ecotourism activities, and pioneering initiatives for endangered marine species.”

Restoration of degraded mangrove areas in Palghar, Thane, Alibaug, Roha and other areas in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) will be carried out at a total cost of Rs3.2 crore as a part of the budget, said officials. “This will include carrying out mangrove plantations at these sites and also removing blockages to facilitate better tidal water flow,” said Vasudevan.

Three major projects at a cost of Rs1 crore have been planned as interventions with the fisheries department for mangrove and marine protection. The first project costing Rs25 lakh includes the introduction of square mesh nets across all coastal districts to control overfishing. “Based on the success witnessed at Sindhudurg, where square mesh nets were introduced as opposed to traditional diamond-shaped nets (size 20-25mm) that pick up large quantities of juvenile fish, including protected and endangered species, helped sensitise the fishing community about sustainability in their sector. We wish to replicate the same in other districts,” said Vasudevan.

The other two projects with the fisheries includes joint patrolling by the forest department and fisheries for protection of marine species at Rs50 lakh, and fishermen that free protected marine mammals and fish from their nets, will be entitled to a compensation of up to Rs25,000 (with total project cost at Rs25 lakh). “As a part of the patrolling initiative, it will ensure better enforcement and protection of marine species through the Maharashtra Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1981, and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 through both initiatives,” said Vasudevan.

For the protection of mangrove trees and assistance for marine mammal or turtle rescue operations, security personnel will be hired from the Maharashtra State Security Corporation for the entire state at a cost of Rs3.5 crore. HT had reported earlier this year that 108 security personnel, of which 12 armed with pellet guns, were deployed in teams for city-wide surveillance of mangrove forests under maximum threat.

WHAT IS THE MANGROVE FOUNDATION

The Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation is a non-governmental organisation, under the state government, which was set up in 2012 with the mandate to promote coastal marine biodiversity conservation through resource mobilisation from government, semi-government, non-government and corporate source, with Rs. 140.75 crore in its corpus.

OTHER BUDGETARY ALLOCATIONS IN 2018-19

Other sanctions include providing funds for coastal marine biodiversity research projects at a total cost of Rs. 1.5 crore with institutes such as the Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bengaluru, studying integrated pest management strategies for mangrove trees and wood anatomical studies. The Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, has been roped in for monitoring the health of mangroves of Maharashtra using real-time satellite imagery.

Setting up cage culture activities across various coastal districts of Maharashtra with an allocation of Rs. 1.82 crore and developing a hatchery for fish species such seabass with the help of Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) Chennai at Rs. 3.2 crore.

Through the ‘Small Grants Programme’, the foundation aims to strengthen scientific data on the coastal and marine biodiversity of Maharashtra and provide PhD or post-masters programme researchers with an opportunity to work on their dream projects with expenditure amounting to Rs. 25 lakh. “The newly introduced small grants programme will be a shot in the arm for young researchers. Initially, we will be providing five grants of Rs. 2 lakh each to researchers based on applications received by us. Depending on the feasibility of executing such projects, we will be scaling the grants next year as well,” said Vasudevan.