In a significant development, around 1,036 hectares (more than 2,500 acres) of mangrove belts in the twin-city are set to be declared as “reserve forest area”. The green land parcel has recently been transferred by the revenue department to the forest authorities via a gazette notification published on January 12, 2021. The classification process is a part of the forest department’s campaign to bring all mangrove forests in the state under the purview of Section 20 of the Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927.
While thousands of constructions that have mushroomed on this land will now face the axe, dozens of mega developmental projects being executed by various government agencies, including in the Mira-Bhayandar municipal corporation (MBMC) will be affected. “It is the need of the hour for the civic chief to form a joint committee, comprising of municipal and forest officials to find a way out,” said a leader of the house, Prashant Dalvi.
“We will register our say in the objection-suggestion process and follow-up on the issue to ensure that the affected land parcels tagged for developmental projects are omitted,” said MBMC chief Dilip Dhole. The entire process begins by first declaring the mangroves as reserved forests under Section 4 of the IFA seeking objections and suggestions via the notification, following state-level hearings and ascertaining community dependence on the land. Finally, some portion of the land may be excluded from the final notification under Section 20 of the IFA, said a revenue officer.
Notably, the move is in accordance with the directions issued by the high court to hand overall mangrove areas on the state land to the forest department for better conservation and to improve the protection of mangroves since they act as buffers during natural disasters. The government land in revenue villages of the twin-city including, Versova, Ghodbunder, Penkarpada, Navghar, Uttan, Tarodi, Chowk, Murdha, Rai and Bhayandar have been classified as reserve forests. From now on the forest department will conduct an aerial survey using drones
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