The state forest department is likely to change the reservation of mangroves from ‘Protected Forest’ to ‘Reserved Forest’.
The new status will cover around 12,000 hectares of mangroves in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane and will enable the state to take stringent action against offenders.
The Indian Forest Act provides for two kinds of forests – Protected and Reserved. The former offers people the right to reside, do business, cut woods, etc. These activities are not allowed under the latter category.
Speaking to dna, N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, mangrove cell, said, “We have already notified the mangroves in Mumbai region. We will notify the Thane and Raigad areas later. ”
The process for changing the classification from ‘Protected’ to ‘reserved’ started in August this year. In fact, the the Bombay HC, in October 2005, had accorded the status of ‘protected forests’ to mangroves on government land, whereas those on private land were classified ‘forests’.
Despite the protection provided by the high court, destruction of mangroves continued unabated in the last eight years.
Mumbai and its surrounding areas account for almost half the mangrove cover in the state. “In Maharashtra, there are 25,000 to 30,000 hectares of land under the mangrove cover,” said Vasudevan.
The figures with the Mangrove Cell show that, in Mumbai, there are 3,998 hectares of mangroves.
Around 1,806 hectares of private land , particularly in Vikhroli, also exists. The surrounding regions of Navi Mumbai have 1,471 hectares and Thane has a cover of 4,800 hectares.
Mangroves are natural buffers against natural calamities. Therefore, there is a need to protect them and increase the coverage area. The Mangrove Cell, since its inception has been planting mangroves in and around Mumbai.