In a significant move, the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) has started surveying residential pockets which are standing on land parcels that have recently been tagged as “reserve forest area” in the twin-city.
The move is apparently aimed at excluding these land parcels from the forest area so as ensure proper maintenance of existing facilities including public toilets, crematoriums, community halls, nullahs, and roads that cater to the needs of citizens living in more than two-decade-old pre-2000 tenements and slum-clusters.
Around 1036 hectares (more than 2500 acres) of mangrove belts in the twin-city have been declared as reserve forests. Notably, the move is in accordance with directions issued by the Mumbai High Court to hand over all mangrove areas on state land to the forest department for better conservation and to improve the protection of mangroves since they act as buffers during natural disasters such as tsunamis and cyclones.
“Yes, we have appointed an agency which is conducting a physical survey of residential pockets. We will table the reports before the forest authorities seeking exclusion of these land parcels,” confirmed a senior civic official. The MBMC had earlier taken a stand that civic amenities will not be provided to illegal structures falling under the reserved forest area.
However, most of the affected areas are considered to be vote banks of local political leaders who have patronized thousands of slums in eco-sensitive areas. The classification process is a part of the forest department’s campaign to bring all mangrove forests in Maharashtra under the purview of section 20 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA). The government land in revenue villages including-Versova, Ghodbunder, Penkarpada, Navghar, Uttan, Tarodi, Chowk, Murdha, Rai and Bhayandar have been classified as reserve forests. A major portion of these land parcels has fallen prey to illegal constructions.
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