Mumbai: The State Mangrove cell has disposed off 55 complaints of mangrove destruction out of the 107 complaints received on its ‘Hello Forest helpline number —1926’ and on its website starting from January till date.
Neenu Somaraj, Joint Director, Maharashtra forest confirmed the details. She further informed that the complaints were mainly related to the dumping of debris illegally on the restricted mangrove land, raising unauthorised shanties and hutments, cutting mangroves illegally, and blocking tidal water to the mangroves.
Interestingly, the complaints have drastically dropped as compared to the previous year. According to the data, about 275 cases of mangrove destruction were recorded in 2018, 138 cases were recorded in 2017 and 141 cases were recorded in 2016.
According to Somaraj, the number of mangrove destruction cases has reduced in the recent past, as extensive awareness campaigns and initiatives were held for the protection of mangroves by the authority.
Initiatives like mangrove walk and marine matters are among a few. Moreover, the authority also regularly conducts patrolling to keep close surveillance in mangrove areas.
It has 100 Maharashtra Security Force guards, who carry out regular round-up in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) mangrove spread areas.
Interestingly, the authority had plans to set up Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras. However, Somaraj stated, “Since most of the mangrove areas are located in remote regions, the installation of CCTV cameras has halted.
The cameras, if installed, should have a connection access to serve its purpose; therefore, we are finding a solution for it.” Meanwhile, the authority in association with the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Trivandrum, is conducting studies on changing patterns in the mangrove cover.
“The study is being carried out since several infrastructure projects are on-going, which are likely to have an impact on the mangrove cover,” said the official.
Besides this, the authority is also providing monetary help for people for taking up crab farming, mussel farming, and oyster farming that may help save mangroves in its coastal regions.
Somaraj stated that of the 33 crore tree plantation drive, an initiative of the state in 2019, about 40 lakh mangrove saplings have been planted in the MMR region to increase the green cover.
She further asserted “These saplings were nurtured in a nursery for a few months before undertaking the plantation drive to ensure the plants survive.”