Plan to build wall around Mumbai’s mangroves stalled
The cell is yet to get clearance for the project from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), said officials.mumbai Updated: Dec 09, 2017 00:28 IST
The state mangrove cell’s ambitious project to construct a 10-foot high wall around mangrove patches in the city, threatened by encroachments, has hit a roadblock.
As against plans to start construction of the wall from November onwards, the cell is yet to get clearance for the project from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), said officials.
HT had first reported in April this year that Mumbai’s mangroves will be fenced-off by a 2.6 metre (10-foot) compound wall, spread across 60 kilometres if not continuous, with CCTV cameras for round-the-clock vigilance. The cell received the green nod from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) in April itself and began the tendering process in November. However, owing to confusion regarding other clearances, it failed to get the SEIAA nod so far.
“We applied for the environment clearance from SEIAA earlier this week. Owing to some internal confusion, we were not able to do the same before, which has delayed the project construction. However, we will also request for permission from the Bombay high court for this construction,” said a senior official from the state mangrove cell. “We expect both permissions to be in by January, and subsequently construction will commence.”
SEIAA members said that permissions cannot be issued anytime soon. “As of now, our committee does not have a chairman in place, and we have not had any meetings over the past month. Once a new chairman is appointed, environment clearances for projects will be considered,” said Satish Gavai, secretary, SEIAA and additional chief secretary, state environment department.
Mangroves are salt-tolerant plants, trees, shrubs or ground fern of tropical and subtropical intertidal regions of the world. They are a breeding ground for a variety of marine animals. There have been 82 cases of mangrove destruction between January and October this year with 32 FIRs filed but no arrests or convictions so far.
Mangrove cell officials said they will be starting the fencing process from areas most prone to encroachments, including Manori-Gorai, Marwe, Kandivli, Borivli, Charkop, Chitta camp, Kannamwar Nagar, and some parts of the eastern suburbs, as a part of the first phase of the project at an expected cost of Rs13 crore. “The entire project will cost Rs60 crore, which will be funded by the state’s Mangrove Foundation. The second phase will look at other areas prone to encroachments that are not easily accessible. However, we are still in the planning stages for the same,” the mangrove cell official said.