'Declare Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Corridor As Ecologically Sensitive': Bombay HC

'Declare Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Corridor As Ecologically Sensitive': Bombay HC

The court has directed the authorities to create a task force for compliance with the mandate against tree cutting and ensure the Corridor does not suffer ecological damage.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Sunday, April 14, 2024, 01:30 AM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

The Bombay High Court has observed that it is imperative that the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg corridor, consisting of 25 villages in southern Konkan, be declared as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) without any further delay. The court has hence directed the Maharashtra government to submit the proposal for the same to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests within four months.

Further, the centre, after receiving the proposal from the state, shall initiate the procedure for issuing such a declaration within two months. Centre, after following due process of law, shall issue the final ESA notification preferably within four months, the high court had said.

High Court Extends Tree Cutting Ban In Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Corridor

In the meantime, the interim orders restraining tree cutting in the corridor shall continue until final notification is issued, the high court has emphasised. The court has directed the authorities to create a task force for compliance with the mandate against tree cutting and ensure the Corridor does not suffer ecological damage. 

“Despite overwhelming scientific evidence and a consensus on the importance of protecting the critical Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Corridor, it is unfortunate that very little has been done over the past decade. To make matters worse, large-scale deforestation is carried out in clear contravention of this Court’s orders,” a bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Milind Sathaye said recently. 

NGOs Secure Victory As High Court Orders Declaration Of Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Corridor As ESA

The HC passed the order while hearing a plea by NGOs Awaz Foundation and Vanashakti seeking direction to the authorities to declare the corridor as ESA under the Environment Protection Act and the Environment Protection Rules. 

In its order, the judges noted that Dodamarg Taluka, situated in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, is flanked by Goa in the south, Karnataka in the southeast and the Sahyadri range in the north and consists of hilly terrain “extremely rich in biodiversity” of flora and fauna and consists of the Tillari river and a dam built on it.

NGOs Advocate For Environmental Significance Of The Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Corridor

The Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Corridor is vital in connecting wildlife sanctuaries and national parks across Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka, acting as a pathway for animals like Asiatic elephants and tigers, the bench underlined. 

The NGOs pointed out reports by experts which said that the declaration of the corridor as ESA will neither affect future development in the area nor will be prejudicial to the locals. Moreover, around eighteen lakh trees were felled in the preceding two years in Dodamarg forest circle alone, the NGOs said citing information received from tree authority. 

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