On World Mangroves Day today, activists and environmentalists in Navi Mumbai have a reason to celebrate. Under pressure from the High Court, various government agencies have initiated the process of notifying over 1,450 hectares of mangroves as reserve forests in Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
To begin with, Cidco will hand over 219 hectares of mangrove stretches in Kamothe and Panvel to the revenue department to be transferred to the forest department for conservation. Virendra Tiwari, additional chief principal conservator of forests, announced this mangrove transfer at an online discussion organized by NGO NatConnect Foundation. MMRDA has also agreed to transfer 300 hectares of mangroves, Tiwari said.
Speaking at the session, Tiwari said JNPT has also agreed in principle to handover the mangroves under it after ascertaining through a high-resolution mapping by Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre. The port has already confirmed in an RTI response to NatConnect that it has over 913 hectares of mangroves under its jurisdiction.
The secretary level meeting of revenue, forest and environment departments, attended by two the urban development secretaries, has met on July 13 to review the mangrove transfer status. In a related development, Cidco vice-chairman and managing director Dr Sanjay Mukherjee has asked his teams to quickly transfer mangroves to the forest department without any further delay. The mangrove stretches at Kharghar, Uran, Ulwe and other planes will be handed over in quick stages.
Delivering the keynote address, BNHS Director Dr Bivash Pandav appreciated the activists’ pressure on the officials to keep them on their toes. “Otherwise, the system tends to relax,” he observed.