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TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Mumbai: City mangroves will now be under police protection. In a move aimed at safeguarding
coastal tropical forests and protecting sensitive wetlands along the shore, officials of the
Indian Police Service (IPS) have been assigned the task of ensuring the preservation of
various mangrove species.

Senior police officers of the rank of deputy commissioners and superintendents of police would
henceforth be held accountable for mangroves-protected areas in their jurisdiction.

The state government on Friday issued orders deputing 12 city DCPs for protecting wetlands at
Mahim, Seven Bungalows, Andheri, Kanjurmarg-Vikhroli, Goregaon Link Road, Gorai-Borivli
and Malwani-Malad, pockets which have witnessed indiscriminate destruction of the
mangroves.

The move is in the wake of the recent order of the Bombay high court which had directed the
state to take steps to prevent destruction of mangroves. The court, in response to a PIL filed
by the Bombay Environmental Action Group, had ordered a ban on destroying mangrove cover
and directed that the state government should nominate senior officials to ensure strict
implementation.

The petition will come up for a final hearing on November 16. “The state’s reaction is in
response to the court order. Moreover, we have realised after the July floodings in Mumbai,
that areas with adequate mangrove cover have largely remained unaffected,’’ a Mantralaya
official told TOI.

A case in point, he pointed, was the Vikhroli area in the north-east suburbs, where a corporate
house had taken up a project for mangrove regeneration. “About 700 hectares of mangrove
was allowed to regenerate in this pocket and the resultantly, while rest of Mumbai was flooded
the damage was minimal in Vikhroli,’’ he said.

There are 18 major estuaries along the 700-km Maharashtra coastline and the IPS officials
have to ensure the safety of these biologically rich pockets on the 52 creeks.

In the Navi Mumbai area, the state has appointed the police commissioner Vijay Kambli and
his deputy Amar Jadhav to look into any issues related to mangroves. In Ratnagiri and
Sindhudurg districts, the district SPs have been put in charge.
No more cutting of mangroves’
Staff Reporter | Friday, October 07, 2005 10:28:59 IST

Areas identified to be under mangroves will be declared as ‘protected forests..

The 18 estuaries harbouring the biologically richest patches of mangroves and the 52 creeks
stretching along the 720 km western coastline of Maharashtra is under threat due to
indiscriminate destruction of mangroves.
Though unanimously accepted by scientists that the damage caused by natural calamities such as
the tsunami could be mitigated to a great extent by growing mangroves as they play an important
role by balancing the eco-system at no cost. However, the same had been systematically
destroyed.
In Mumbai, mangroves in areas such as Seven Bungalows, Kanjurmarg, Link Road (Goregaon),
Gorai and Malvani village have witnessed mass destruction alongside creeks. The Bombay
Environment Action Group (BEAG), Usha Madhu Development Co-operative Housing Society and
Maharashtra Manav Seva Sangh had filed their separate writ petitions seeking the court’s
directions for the protection of mangroves. The division bench of Mumbai High court comprising of
Chief Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Dr.D. Y. Chandrachud, in an interim order, held that
further destruction of mangroves should be prevented and measures should be taken to conserve
and rejuvenate the same.
The court observed that the state which had recently carried out Satellite Remote Sensing should
prepare for Phase-II of the mapping to study the mangroves. The court observed that the results of
Phase-I mapping were shown to the court on August 28. However, in order to identify mangrove
areas more precisely, especially in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, high resolution satellite data of 65
cm spatial resolution per meter spatial resolution should be used. However, since according to the
Advocate General it will take six months for the entire exercise, the court passed order to take
measures to protect mangroves.
Among the protective measures, the important ones are that there should be a total freeze on the
destruction and cutting of mangroves in the entire state. (According
to a study by experts and their affidavit filed in one of the courts, in
Mumbai Urban area alone, 1534 hectares of land were classified as
mangrove areas. All construction and dumping of rubble/garbage on the mangrove areas should
be stopped forthwith. Also, all construction taking place within 50 meters on all sides of mangroves
should be immediately stopped and no new permission should be given by the authorities for such
activity. The Municipality Building Proposal Department should not entertain any application for
development on mangrove lands regardless of the type of ownership of the same.
All complaints from the citizens in respect of destruction of mangroves should be entertained. The
government of Maharashtra should appoint a senior officer not below the rank of District
Magistrate/ Collector/ Deputy Commissioner of Police or Superintendent of Police to oversee the
implementation of the court’s order. The name, address and contact information of the appointed
officer should be advertised prominently in newspapers.
The state government and Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authorities (MCZMA) will have
to file reports within four weeks and then every month in court. The report will include number of
complaints received, action taken and the number of offenders named, details of prosecution/
action launched/ taken against them.
The court also observed that within eight weeks of completion of Phase-II of satellite mapping, all
areas on government-owned land identified as `under mangroves’ should be notified and declared
as ‘protected forests’ and the privately owned areas should be notified as ‘forests’. The protected
forests will be handed over to the forest department within 12 weeks.
All the revenue records regarding such protected forest and forests notified should be updated
within 12 weeks form the date of issue of notification. The forest department and other authorities
should ensure that all obstructions impeding the growth of mangroves and restricting the flow of
sea-water in mangroves areas are removed. Necessary steps should be taken in areas where
mangroves’ growth appears to be denuded and sparse. Municipality
will have to remove all garbage and debris from these areas within three months.
By: Nilesh Nikade
July 7, 2005
The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) is
likely to issue a show-cause notice to TMC for violating the CRZ
guidelines by constructing Rutuchakra Garden or Nature Park near
Kalwa bridge.

The MCZMA says that the Nature Park has been built on mangrove
land and that the land does not belong to TMC either. MCZMA had
formed a committee to pursue the Nature Park case in June 2002.

The committee has presided over more than 43 hearings. Sources
say that on the last hearing held on June 22, the committee decided
to send a notice to TMC.

“The MCZMA committee has studied the pros and cons of Nature
Park and will soon give out its decision. The committee had a three-
year term. Though the hearing is complete, we will ask for an
extension because we have to make public the findings of the
committee,” says DT Devale, an MPCB officer. MCZMA under
MPCB.

TMC officials also accept that the corporation does not own the land
where Nature Park has been built. “The Nature Park land belongs to
the Collector. We built the Park without the Collector’s permission,”
says Sanjay Gawande, TMC’s tree and garden department officer.

However, Gawande claims TMC did not destroy mangroves to build
the Park. “There were no mangroves at the site where the Park
stands. It is unfortunate that the survey conducted by Centre for
Earth Science Studies says the land falls under CRZ guidelines,” he
says.

When asked about the course of action if MCZMA issues a show-
cause notice, a senior TMC official, on condition of anonymity, says,
“At the most the CRZ committee will impose a fine of up to Rs 1
lakh. Probably, TMC will have to stop further construction. But the
Park will remain.”

HOPE, the NGO that had drafted the plan for Nature Park, says it is
no longer associated with the project. “We had suggested that TMC
should build a seasonal nature park. We were not aware of the
ownership issue,” says Dr Deepa Rathi of HOPE.

The TMC has, so far, developed 16 acres of the creek land and 60
per cent of the garden is already complete. The garden is open to
public.

nilesh.nikade@mid-day.com

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