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Bombay High Court order forces nearly 700 hectares of land into custody of state mangrove cell

Nearly 700 hectares of land will have to be given up by the suburban collector to the state mangrove cell following the Bombay high court order. The cell has been taking back ownership rights of mangrove properties belonging to state agencies.

Soon, properties will be taken back from Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority and even City and Industrial Development Corporation.

Once the land is under the mangrove cell, it will be notified under the Indian Forests Act in a bid to prevent any encroachment or destruction of mangro-ve land, officials said.

Presently, there are 5,000 hectares of mangrove land spread over Mumbai and 1,171 hectares of mangroveland in Navi Mumbai. There are 15,880 hect-ares of mangrove land across Maharashtra.

“After the court order in September, we had sent notices to collectors and other state age-ncies to hand over the mangrove land. The suburban collector will now have to hand over 700 hectares of mangrove land spread in areas like Versova. The transfer is still in proc-ess and the land will be given to us soon,” said a senior official from the state mangrove cell.

In September this year, the high court had ordered a total freeze on mangrove destruction after a bunch of petitions were filed by the Bombay Environm-ental Action Group in a bid to protect mangroves across the state.

Preceding this, the court directed the state to identify all private mangrove land as protected or reserved forest area under the Indian Forests Act, 1927.

The court stressed that once identified all such land should be transferred to the jurisdiction of the state forest department.

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