State Mangrove Committee halts reclamation 

A view of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust near Mumbai.

Heeding to a series of complaints from environmental activists and local fishermen, the Bombay High Court-appointed Maharashtra Mangrove Monitoring Committee has ordered Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) to stop reclamation of Dastan Phata wetland in Uran in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).  

Despite Bombay High Court ruling on wetlands and mangroves, JNPT through private contractors has been reclaiming the sprawling Dastan Phata chunk in day-and-night operation, destroying mangroves and the migratory bird destination.

Following complaints from environment groups The Nature Connect and Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP), the mangrove committee sent out a joint team of revenue to Dastan Phata last week for an on the spot study. 

The teams recorded the destruction here and three other places and reported back to the district administration, according to a press statement.

The mangrove committee which met on Friday took serious note of the large-scale destruction and issued orders to stop the landfill immediately.

“This is a welcome development and good to end the year on a happy note. At last, the authorities have realized the environmental loss after we directly complained,” said activist B N Kumar, director of The Nature Connect. “But it is too early to celebrate the success as we have miles to go before the environmental destruction on other parts of Uran is checked,” he pointed out.

Over 400 acres which are being destroyed for reclaiming land for plots for project affected people (PAP) under 12.5% scheme by JNPT, Nandakumar Pawar, head of SEAP said and called for restoring the water channels and mangroves on the wetland so that the fisherfolk could resume their trade. JNPT should find alternative site instead of playing with nature, he said.

Locals have been fishing here and the reclamation was a direct hit on their constitutional right to practice their trade, said Tukaram Koli of Paramparik Machhimar Kruti Samiti (Traditional fishermen’s action committee) that has been fighting for their rights for four decades plus.

Pawar and Kumar are happy that the mangrove committee also got inspected the killing of mangroves in a bridge construction by TIPL at NH-348, Dronagiri holding pond and coastal road. They appealed to the authorities to take immediate action on the three inspection reports and revive mangroves.

Seawater flow should be restored wherever it has been blocked so that the revival of ecologically important aquatic trees can be facilitated, they said.

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State Mangrove Committee halts reclamation 

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