Mangroves on privately owned land are not a part of this notification
Maharashtra has notified 15,087.6 hectares of mangroves across the state as reserved forest, becoming the first state in the country to do so. The notification, however, comes over a decade after Bombay High Court asked the state government to declare mangroves as forests in 2005.
The HC judgement asked for a total freeze on the destruction and cutting of mangroves in entire Maharashtra "with immediate effect". The court had also said that garbage cannot be dumped into mangroves, and there can be no construction 50 metres on each side of a mangrove belt.
The state’s notification puts the forest department directly in charge of conservation and protection of mangrove land.
Currently, only mangroves on government land are a part of the reserved forest notification. Over 10,000 hectares of mangrove land that is privately owned is yet to be awarded the reserved status, said media reports. Around 1,471 hectares mangrove land in Navi Mumbai was declared as “reserved” in 2014.
As per a Forest Survey of India report of 2013, mangroves constitute around 462,800 hectares or 0.14 per cent of India’s land area, with Sundarbans in West Bengal accounting for almost half of it. As per the report, six of Maharashtra’s districts have mangrove cover: Mumbai city, Mumbai suburbs, Raigarh, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and Thane. Raigarh has the largest mangrove cover at 6,200 hectares.
Mangroves are a salt-tolerant plant community found in tropical and sub-tropical regions that receive high rainfall. Increasing industrial activity in coastal areas are negatively affecting mangrove forests, making their conservation essential, said a Forest Survey of India report.
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