Activists had written to the Prime Minister’s office in 2023 over years-long delay in following HC order on their conservation
CIDCO has been directed to hand over about 1,200 ha of mangroves by October 30. Representation Pic
- NatConnect Foundation in July last year drew the PMO’s attention to mangrove destruction
- State Mangrove Cell has now confirmed in writing that 3,948.36 hectares of mangrove land
- The issue was discussed at the meetings
Hopes of conserving over 40 lakh mangroves that are in the possession of CIDCO and the revenue department have soared as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has responded to environmentalists’ complaints against the delay in transferring them to the forest department, which was a violation of a Bombay High Court order.
NatConnect Foundation in July last year drew the PMO’s attention to mangrove destruction and coastal erosion despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proclaimed love for mangroves, and the PMO has referred the issue to the state government.
“We had complained to the PM against the violation of the Bombay High Court order to conserve the mangroves and the over-four-year-long inaction in completing the transfer of the sea plants to the forest department for conservation as per the order,” NatConnect director B N Kumar said.
The State Mangrove Cell has now confirmed in writing that 3,948.36 hectares of mangrove-bearing land are with CIDCO and the revenue department. The issue was discussed at the meetings of the Mangrove Protection and Conservation Monitoring Committee headed by the divisional commissioner, Konkan division.
CIDCO has been directed to hand over about 1,200 ha of mangroves by October 30, Mangrove Cell chief and Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest S V Ramarao, according to NatConnect. Other departments have also been directed to complete the process at the earliest, he said.
Kumar had written to the PM saying that the inordinate delay in transferring mangroves—the natural protection against coastal erosion, storms and tsunamis—has led to the unchecked destruction of mangroves at several places in the MMR, particularly in Uran.
“What is even more concerning is the sheer lack of respect on the part of even official agencies such as CIDCO to the directives given by the high court-appointed Mangrove Protection and Conservation Committee,” his complaint reads.
The letter also alleged that CIDCO, Navi Mumbai SEZ Private Limited and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority have been destroying mangroves under the guise of infrastructure development, which is bound to increase the threats of erosion and flooding of the projects themselves. Meanwhile, Ramarao said the forest department has so far taken possession of 21,099.55 ha of mangrove-bearing lands.
As regards the destruction of mangroves, he said that the Mangrove Cell takes care of the plants which are in possession of the forest department. But in the case of mangrove areas that are under other authorities, the cell doesn't have any jurisdiction, he said. The environment department has been requested to look into the issue of coastal soil erosion, Ramarao said. The PMO has since closed Kumar’s complaint following this correspondence.
Nandakumar Pawar, head of Sagarshakti, has expressed his shock and dismay at the inordinate delay in handing over the mangroves to the forest department. “With the debris mafia being very active, the authorities are miserably failing to protect mangroves despite our series of complaints,” he said.
Area of mangrove-bearing land with forest dept