In a historical judgement, the Bombay High Court has declared all mangrove lands in state as reserved forests. The court was responding to multiple pleas filed by environmentalists.
The Bombay High Court in a landmark judgement has declared all mangrove land as reserved forests. It said that those who destroy mangroves will be prosecuted and directed Maharashtra government to take necessary steps to save mangroves. The judgement is a major boost and applies to all land including those belonging to planning authorities like the CIDCO and MMRDA.
ORDER DIRECTS GOVERNMENT TO TAKE STEPS
In order to preserve Mangroves, not only in Mumbai but across Maharashtra, Bombay High Court issued a strict order to the state government asking them to take important steps regarding the same. One being to construct a buffer zone of 50 metres around the mangroves.
MAP MANGROVES EVERY SIX MONTHS
According to the judgment, mangroves across the state must be mapped every six months using satellites and all mangroves in Maharashtra will be identified as coastal regulation zone-I, including the 50-metre buffer zone for areas with more than 1,000 sq metres of mangroves. Destruction of mangroves and dumping of debris remains prohibited in these areas.
VIOLATORS TO FACE CRIMINAL ACTION FOR MANGROVE DESTRUCTION
The order says that the destruction of mangroves will amount to criminal prosecution. If mangroves are cut or destroyed, the state government must take action under section 15 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. Restoration activities have to be carried out immediately after action has been taken
CCTV CAMERAS TO BE USED
The court also directed that CCTV cameras to be installed in vulnerable areas. The court has asked to create awareness regarding Mangroves among commoners so that it can be preserved.
JUSTICE TO ENVIRONMENTALIST DEBI GOENKA AFTER 15 YEARS
The court was hearing petitions filed to curb the destruction of mangroves. One of them was filed in 2004 by Debi Goenka, executive trustee of Conservation Action Trust, then known as Bombay Environment Action Group. Speaking to the media he said, TYPE TEXT –> “This order strengthens mangrove protection in Maharashtra. It also ensures the state will implement it.”
TOWN PLANNING OFFICES TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ORDER ON GROUND
The state will issue a directive under section 154 of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act that all planning authorities will identify mangrove areas as mangroves, including the 50m buffer zone, in the state urban development department’s development plan (DP) and regional plans. Since the last few years, Konkan coastal belt in Mumbai has been destroyed and continues to get wrecked which has caused serious environmental issues.
With climate change, global warming and rising sea level there has been heavy flooding of cities and loss to human lives. Kerala floods have taught humans the lesson of the life dangering circumstances of playing with nature. At such a time, the Bombay High court’s decision to protect mangroves by declaring them as reserved forest is welcome as these mangroves will be the shield to protect Mumbai and nearby cities from a similar calamity like the Kerala floods.