The forest cover of MMR that accounted for almost 1142 sq km area in 1987 has now been reduced by around 225 sq km, leading  to an overall reduction by 5%.

Mumbai: The environment status report by The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) has revealed a change in the land use pattern in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). It shows that there is a reduction in the share of agricultural and forests land by 7% and 5% respectively. MMR has three protected areas namely the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), Karnala bird sanctuary and Tugareshwar sanctuary and one eco-sensitive zone of Mahtheran within its limits. However, urbanisation has resulted in severe deforestation reducing the forest covers in the region.

According to the status report submitted by TERI, the forest cover of MMR accounted for almost 1142 sq.km area in 1987. However, the forest area has now been reduced by around 225 sq.km, leading  to an overall reduction by 5%.

Anjali Parasnis, Associate Director of TERI said, “There is a lack of planning process in the land use pattern by the authorities. The conservation of forest land is important to make it sustainable.” The second highest change in land use has been recorded in the agricultural land under paddy cultivation in the highly urbanised areas of Thane, Vasai, Ambernath and Kalyan.

The report says that the agricultural land is in tremendous stress as the owners of these lands usually sell or abandon the cultivable land for high economic values offered by the builders and developers which has led to conversion of agriculture land into Non-Agricultural plots.

Another treat to land resource is the quarrying activities which are rampant in areas like Thane, Bhivandi, Panvel and Kalyan has largely affected the environment and ecology of the region. “The quarrying activities have caused the damaged to the mountains. The stone quarrying has also resulted in increasing air pollution which has led to health hazards,” added Parasnis.

As a mitigation measure given by TERI, the land resources especially like forest and agricultural land were asked to avoid being used for construction purpose. “It is important for the authorities to mark the land resources like forest and agricultural land and conserve them”, added Parasnis.

The environment status report prepared by TERI was submitted to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) in 2014 and was approved in 2016.

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