State govt to kick off mangrove rejuvenation drive in Mumbai
By Clara Lewis, TNN | Feb 1, 2013, 12.40 AM IST

MUMBAI: In an ambitious attempt to rejuvenate mangroves in Mumbai, the state government is about to launch a Rs 50 lakh mangrove plantation programme covering 60 hectares across the city this weekend.

On Saturday, volunteers armed with pickaxes and shovels will enter mangrove areas abutting the Eastern Express Highway to remove garbage and break bunds that obstruct the flow of tidal waters.

The programme will kick off near the Bhandup sewage pumping station to mark the World Wetlands Day.

The state mangrove cell has tied up with NGOs for the project, which will be implemented over the next three years, said N
Vasudevan, chief conservator of forests, mangrove cell.

"The positive side is Mumbai has 5,469 hectares of protected mangroves and 1,800 hectares of mangroves form part of private land. The current rate of loss is much less compared to the earlier years because of the increased awareness and vigilance. The negative aspect is that dumping of debris in mangrove areas continues as also their conversion to real estate. Most of it is on private land but it is also happening on forest land.''
Over the past few months, forest staff and volunteers from NGO Vanshakti have spread out across the city to identify patches of degraded mangroves. It is in these areas that saplings will be planted. "We will carry out plantation in the Mulund-Kanjurmarg belt, Airoli, Koparkhairane, Charkop, Manori and so on."

The mangrove cell has developed a nursery at Vasai where it has three lakh saplings of avicennia marina (grey mangrove) and some of rhizophoramucronata (red mangrove). The former is found abundantly in Mumbai. These will be planted in the degraded areas. Along with this, channels will be created to ensure there is uninterrupted flushing so that the saplings can survive and grow.
"Initially we shall take up the plantation in the Mulund-Kanjurmarg belt. We plan to clear garbage in 150 acres of mangrove area, plant mangroves in 30 acres and clear blockages such as bunds in about 100 acres," said D Stalin, director Vanshakti.

Vasudevan said the plantation will be completed within the current financial year and then the work of creating channels will be undertaken.