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Puran Doshi's Attempt To Save Mangroves At Cuffe Parade

By Author: Parth
Total Articles: 13

Mangroves' are one of the crucial part of our ecosystem. There are about 80 different species of mangrove trees. All of these trees grow in areas with low-oxygen soil, where slow-moving waters allow fine sediments to accumulate. They grow only at tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator because they cannot withstand freezing temperatures.
Mangrove forests stabilize the coastline, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides. The intricate root system of mangroves also makes these forests attractive to fish and other organisms seeking food and shelter from predators. scientists are discovering, mangrove swamps are extremely important to our own well-being and to the health of the planet. Not only do mangroves manage to survive in challenging conditions, the mangrove ecosystem also supports an incredible diversity of creatures including some species unique to mangrove forests. Mangroves are habitats for organisms that are large and small. These coastal wetlands create a sanctuary for an extraordinary range of creatures, three-fourths of all tropical fish are born here and countless reptiles and birds call this ecosystem home. They filter nutrients and toxins out of the water, provide protection in extreme weather, and are one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet.
They are very important for Mumbai city. Mumbai, on the west coast of India, has between 35 and 45 square kilometers of mangrove forest. These mangroves has been exploited & disrupted to a large extent. Over 700 illegal structures are built in these reserved forests. A majority of these encroachments are in Colaba and Cheetah Camp reserved mangrove forests. Mumbai city has 4,000 hectares of reserved mangrove forests, which is under the jurisdiction of the state forest department’s mangrove cell. Of these, around five hectares have been encroached upon and the cell is working on restoring them. Garbage has been dumped into these intertidal areas, upsetting the salinity of the seawater and choking off mangrove tree roots. The dumping is a technique to illegally reclaim the land, and subsequently build on it once the trees have been destroyed. . In 2005, the Bombay High Court ruled to prevent any further destruction of the city’s mangroves. It cited India’s Forest Conservation Act of 1980 as well as the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification of 1991. Under the FCA, the use of forest land for non-forest purposes is prohibited without the approval of the central government. With the CRZ Notification, mangroves are protected because they only grow along the coast and are ecologically sensitive.
The slums which are constructed on mangroves are continuously contributing in its destruction & extinction. “These structures are mainly pre-existing ones, which were present on the land before the mangrove forest were transferred to the cell. But these are still illegal structures and we are trying to protect as much of the mangrove forest as we can,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forests, mangrove cell. Mr. Vasudevan is also head of Maharashtra’s mangrove cell, which the state government formed in 2012 to conserve and protect mangrove forests. It has established a mangrove nursery in Vasai Creek in north Mumbai and planted 250,000 mangrove saplings in five locations in the city.
The cell is working with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to make the city’s mangroves accessible to people for recreational purposes, with proposals to create promenades and boardwalks around the edges of mangrove areas, says Mr. Vasudevan.
“It is impossible to deploy people to police all of the areas with mangroves,” he says. “This is the best way to protect them,” he said.
Inorder to get rid of the encroachments and regenerate them in the city, the mangrove protection cell has intensified operations. In the next phase, the cell will construct fences and are working on a scheme to re-channelise tidal waters to these erstwhile encroached areas to promote regeneration of mangroves. “In places where such channeling is not possible, we will simply plant mangrove saplings after removing all the garbage and debris,” added Vasudevan. Such regeneration of mangrove forests assumes significance as vast stretches of mangroves on private land in the city, not under the cell’s jurisdiction, is being destroyed through debris dumping and land-filling activities. Garbage in mangrove areas affect the biological activity and quality of wetland. We should not see mangroves as individual trees. The trash hinders the entire wetland,” said D Stalin, project director, NGO Vanashakti.
The mangrove cell has stepped in to save mangroves after it was found that the garbage from the dumping of waste in an area owned by the civic body appeared to be spilling over into the surrounding mangroves. The cell has asked the civic ward to construct fencing around their operational area and clean the mangroves at the earliest.
Following complaints, members of the mangrove cell visited the area and observed that garbage from the area went into the mangroves due to wind, affecting the mangroves. “Breathing roots of mangroves that come out near the plant base get choked with this garbage.
In the letter, the mangrove cell has asked the BMC to construct fences and clean up mangroves. Civic body officials admitted that garbage spilled over to the mangroves, and said they would construct fences. “Rag-pickers separate waste and segregate it into piles. Sometimes, due to wind velocity, waste travels towards mangroves and gets entangled with trees. We will put up fences and will manually clean the mangroves. Once the fences come up, no more garbage will reach the mangroves,” said a senior official from the solid waste management department, who did not wish to be named.

Mr. Puran Doshi secretary Mumbai Congress & Ex Corporator Congress has supported the initiative of protecting mangroves from getting depleted. He is an environmentalist person & strongly supports 'Clean Mumbai, green Mumbai' initiative. He is very much concerned about protecting the mangroves in Colaba area from getting disrupted & exploited due to debris & so he has initiated his support to the mangrove protection cell. According to him, " Mangroves are very crucial to keep Mumbai city green & pollution free but they are brutally destroyed, it is the need of the hour to save & protect these rare & crucial mangroves which contributes in the beauty of our Mumbai City".

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