5,482 hectares of mangroves to be reserved forests

Some good news from the Maharashtra state government. The state government will notify around 5,482 hectares of mangroves on government land in Thane and Raigad districts as reserved forests. Around 4,478 hectares of mangroves in Thane (Dahanu division) will be declared reserved forests by July 25 and 1,004.48 hectares in Raigad district by the next week, the Konkan divisional commissioner informed the state Tuesday.

“The government-approved 4478 hectares, give and take a 100 hectares, will be notified by July 25, while the Raigad proposal of notifying 1004.48 hectares of mangroves on government land is with me. The notification will take a week more,” said R L Mopalwar, divisional commissioner, konkan division.
“It takes time for our surveying team to delineate mangrove lands as well as the 50m buffer zones, and to ensure that only mangroves on government land are notified,” he said.

This decision was taken after the senior officials from the forest department pressed for speedy notification.

A proposal to upgrade the ‘protected forest’ status of mangroves in Raigad to ‘reserved forest’ is also pending with the divisional commissioner, said officials from the forest department. While limited human activity is permitted in protected forest areas, once a forest settlement officer settles claims of all inhabitants in reserved forests, all human activity is strictly prohibited.

Through an order delivered in October 2005, the Bombay High Court has given the status of ‘protected forests’ to mangrove areas on government land and that of ‘forests’ for mangrove area under private ownership in the state.

In June 2013, the state issued a notification to classify all mangrove forests on government land in the state as reserved forests to ensure greater protection of mangroves.

When all mangroves areas on public land in the state are notified, the state will have around 17,286 hectares of mangrove reserved forests, according to the mangrove cell. In Mumbai district, 3,998 hectares (all mangroves) on government land have already been notified as reserved forests.