HC tells state to man mangroves
Mumbai: In a big boost to the Greens and public-spirited citizens fighting to save mangroves, the Bombay high court on Tuesday ordered state protection of five large mangrove patches in the suburbs.
The state government has also been directed to not allow any development activity along the coast if it involves destruction of these mangroves. There should be no more cutting of mangroves or dumping of debris here, nor should water supply be obstructed—the three most common forms of destruction.
The Coastal Zone Management Authority (CZMA) in particular has been directed to ensure that mangroves at Seven Bungalows in Andheri, Kanjur Marg, Linking Road, Goregaon, and the Gorai and Malwan villages in Malad are protected.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice S A Bobde hear the power-packed submission of Navroz Seervai, counsel for environment group Bombay Environmental Action Group. BEAG has filed a public interest litigation against the depleting mangrove cover in the city. Another PIL on the same issue filed by voluntary group Manav Seva Sangh was also tagged on. TNN
High court orders satellite mapping of mangroves
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Mumbai: Directing the state government to protect five mangrove patches in the suburbs, the Bombay high court on Tuesday ordered the Coastal Zone Management Authority (CZMA) to carry out a statewide satellite mapping of mangroves and said the mapping should be done in two weeks and repeated in May before the monsoon.
State government counsel Amjad Sayed said the state had already, last December, set up a high-level committee headed by the forest conservator to survey and identify mangroves in Mumbai and expected a report by the end of May. He tried to suggest that the court should wait for the report before passing orders but the Chief Justice said a tad icily, “So that the mangroves may deplete further?’’
Navroz Seervai, counsel for environment group Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG) which has filed a PIL on the depleting mangrove cover, went all out to hammer home the point that the mangroves were Mumbai’s bio-shield. He read out articles and reports by experts in the field. He pointed out how mangroves at Muthupet and Pichavaram in Tamil Nadu barely 500 metres from the sea had saved lives in the devastating tsunami. He read out a moving report of a tsunami survivor thanking the mangroves. In contrast there was Nagapattam, he said, where the destroyed mangroves meant more deaths.
The petitioner added that after the PIL was filed last year, the situation in Malad was “appalling’’ and that “of a 1,000-acre green area only 400 acres remain’’.
“How long can citizens fight?’’ asked Seervai. “What is a citizen compared to the might of the state and these builders who ruthlessly dump debris to reclaim land. It needs a very courageous person to take this on.’’ He said he was shocked to see the Maharashtra joint secretary, revenue and forest, brazenly stating in his affidavit last month that construction is allowed in the coastal area of CRZ-I in “the larger public interest even if mangroves had to be destroyed’’.
This despite the Supreme Court stressing that not even national interest can come in the way of preserving the coast. “Even as this matter is being heard, mangroves are being destroyed,’’ Seervai said. “And all the state has to say is that it has no manpower to monitor stray incidents.’’
The state, while admitting that there was a decline in mangroves in Mumbai, denied that it had failed to perform its duty. B A Desai, additional solicitor general, who represented the central government, stood up to say there was a “lack of motivation and political will’’ to save mangroves and that a “novel way had to be found out’’.