Mangroves got a big push in the Budget 2023-24 presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The scheme entails Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes (MISHTI) for mangrove plantation along the coastline and on salt pan lands, wherever feasible.
Welcome to Banda in the fishing village of Ambelim, which plays host to many an islands of mangroves in the picturesque river Sal. Here, the local MLA Cruz Silva has knocked the doors of the Forest Department and the government with a plea to rehabilitate the mangroves, which has overgrown over the years, blocking the navigation channel for the local fishermen and resulting in siltation of the river.
The Velim MLA pointed out that river Sal is the home for numerous species of mangroves and one such region along the river Sal is a village called Banda, Ambelim. “Here, it has been observed that there are many islands of mangroves, and recently, these mangroves due to silting of the soil are growing extremely closer to the coast. This village is the site for fishing and the population depends on fishing to sustain their livelihood. With the encroaching mangrove ecosystem, the navigation paths of the fishermen are no more accessible and have to venture on a different route which is longer, time and energy consuming,” he said.
Cruz added: “Moreover, the traditional festivals that are performed in this river are now restricted in certain stretches of the river because of the formation of numerous mangrove islands. This has immensely frustrated the local population and thus reverting to the possibility of cutting these mangroves for their easiness.”
He said India has a long tradition of mangrove forest management, which was clearly demonstrated by a 1976 amendment to the Indian Constitution, The Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The MLA has proposed to the government to protect the mangroves and not be destroyed. But, he hastened to add that along with protecting and conserving the mangrove ecosystem, the difficulties faced by the locals should also be solved.
In the representation made to the Forest Department, the MLA has proposed the mapping of the number of mangrove islands along the river Sal and the islands along the village of Banda, Ambelim. He has called for using scientific methods, to transplant the mangrove plants from the smaller islands to the bigger islands, thereby, giving ample of space for the navigation of the canoes.
“Sealing a boundary using symbiotic methods that can sustain and restrict the growth of these mangroves within the islands and would not encroach the coast. These protected islands can also open new avenues for self-employment such as ecotourism, fishing, beekeeping thus helping the socio-economic conditions of the local communities,” it was further proposed.
The Forest Department had conducted inspection of the mangrove habitation a couple of months ago. With no plan of action forthcoming, Silva has now plans to call on the Forest Minister Vishwajit Rane.
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