Officials visit Sewri mangroves; greens support high court move
A team of officials from the city collectorate conducted a site inspection at the Sewri Bay on Friday.
This comes after Hindustan Times reported that 30 acres of mangroves had died of pollution by what environmentalists believed was coking coal stored a few metres from the site that was developed as the Sewri Mangrove Park by the Mumbai Port Trust in 1996.
"The team will submit its report on Saturday after which we will decide our course of action," said Chandrashekar Oak, city collector incharge of the district coastal monitoring committee.
The state pollution control board also collected soil samples for analysis. "The results will take around 20 days," said an official from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the Bombay high court's suo motu cognisance on the destruction of mangroves on Friday brought some hope among environmentalists who are cynical about the state's role in saving the mangroves.
Damage to mangroves and carrying out non-forestry activities near mangrove areas is in violation of the high court order.
"The judiciary is the only hope to save the mangroves. At present there is endless buck passing being done by the agencies that are singly and collectively responsible for mangrove protection. But each agency keeps away stating jurisdiction and ownership issues," said Stalin D, project head, Vanashakti, non-government organisation.
Stalin added, "This action [the high court notice] gives us hope and courage to continue our fight to protect wetlands and mangroves. The court is implementing its own order; that is the shocking reality."
According to Deepak Apte, deputy director, Bombay Natural History Society, while the government is the custodian of the mangroves, each citizen is also responsible for their neglect. "Mangroves have a point of resilience after which they will die. There are effluents released from chemical factories that enter the mangroves. The city's waste also reaches the mangroves," said Apte.
On Wednesday, the state forest department confirmed that mangroves were dying because of coking coal that was entering the mangroves and leaching into the ground resulting in their death and damage.