The state’s environment ministry may consider setting up a separate division for the monitoring of mangroves in the Konkan region, particularly at Raigad, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri. The plan comes after Members of the Mangroves Society of India (MSI) and other environmental activists stated that adequate attention was not being paid to the mangrove cover in the region.
The request came after concerns were raised over the mangrove cover coming under tremendous pressure due to human interference, developmental activities and pollution. A report released last month by environmental researchers highlighted the condition of the bio-diversity of the Konkan region and revealed that the mangroves cover that has been around for centuries is on the verge of degeneration due to the arid climate, industrial activities and other environmental violations. Mangroves belong to a distinctive group of plants that have evolved to thrive in brackish water and play a major role in maintaining the ecological balance.
The report said that continued degradation of mangroves due to pollution and human interference was having negative consequences on the marine systems and was disturbing natural conditions. Rishi Agarwal, secretary of MSI, said that though the office of the chief conservator of forests for mangroves was set up by the state government, it only looks after places like Thane, Kalyan and Navi Mumbai, and areas that fall under the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
“We want an extra committee and satellite offices to be set up in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, where mangrove bio-diversity is rich. Activists from those areas should have a local office to file complaints and reports, as the Mumbai office can’t reach out to all areas,” said Agarwal. According to the members, their proposal for appointment of full-time project officers in the Konkan areas to document the development and diminution of the plantations has been pending since the past one year.
The officers would be tasked with documenting all mangrove areas in the region and submitting the data to the state environment ministry for further and appropriate action. The officials at the Divisional Commissioner Office, Konkan Division stated that they have been filing timely complaints related to acts of violation against the ecology in the west coast. “We monitor the patch and send two reports pertaining to the monitoring work undertaken by us to the environment ministry every month,” said an official.