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Maharashtra: Fresh survey of tidal plants along state coast

Updated on: 24 April,2024 07:03 AM IST  |  Mumbai
A Correspondent |

Study to cover seven districts in state, help understand mangrove growth and destruction

Maharashtra: Fresh survey of tidal plants along state coast

The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority has held onto 70 hectares of mangroves citing future requirement of land for its projects. Representation Pic/NatConnect

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Maharashtra: Fresh survey of tidal plants along state coast

The Maharashtra Mangrove Cell has mandated a fresh survey of tidal plants along the state’s coastal area, amid concerns by environmentalists over the rising threats to the existence of mangroves. The development comes as environmental groups have been raising alarm over the inordinate delay in transferring the mangroves to the forest department for conservation, as per orders of the Bombay Court’s order.

The Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre (MRSAC) is currently studying coasts across seven districts of the state, including Sindhdurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Thane, Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban and Palghar. Mangrove cell chief S V Ramarao has told the NGO NatConnect Foundation that “the study will help understand the growth of mangroves and assess their destruction as well”. MRSAC is recognised as one of the best state centres for natural resource monitoring and management, offering innovative, effective and optimal solutions by blending remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) technologies, the centre’s website says.

Meanwhile, official records indicate that as much as 2,011.36 hectares of mangrove land is yet to be handed over to the forest department, as per the Bombay High Court order. Palghar district leads the list as it is yet to hand over 1,277.58 hectares of mangrove land, as per the minutes of the latest meeting of the HC-appointed mangrove committee. NatConnect director B N Kumar said the 2,011 hectares is equivalent to the size of about 200 Azad Maidans put together, and conservation of the mangroves is extremely important.

“The minutes of the mangrove committee meeting, however, remained silent on the sea forest area pending transfer from CIDCO,” Kumar pointed out. Over 1,200 hectares of mangrove land is still with CIDCO, as per a response from the mangrove cell to NatConnect, following the NGO’s complaint to the prime minister. NatConnect drew the PM’s attention to the fact that sea forests are being ignored despite his ambitious Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes (MISHTI) that envisages comprehensively exploring the possible area for development of mangroves covering approximately 540 sq km, across 11 states and two union territories. The PMO had referred the complaint to the state government which in turn asked the mangrove cell to respond.

Nandakumar Pawar, head of NGO Sagar Shakti, expressed his regret over the lacklustre attitude towards mangrove conservation. “Despite the mangrove committee’s repeated directives, local authorities remain inattentive. Shockingly, CIDCO has been allowed to go scot-free despite the city planner holding onto hundreds of hectares of mangrove land,” he said.

According to Pawar, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority too holds 70 hectares of mangroves citing future requirement of land for its projects which is “utter nonsense”. “JNPA should immediately hand over the mangrove land to the forest department and seek the Bombay High Court’s permission if at all it needs the area,” he said.

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