Citizens and environmentalists have welcomed the Bombay high court’s judgment on the 2005 PIL seeking protection for mangroves, stating that the court has given a clear verdict which will escalate the process of protecting mangrove lands from being procured by builders and mapping these green areas.
While prohibiting any construction or commercial exploitation of mangroves, the court said that the state was duty-bound to protect and preserve all mangrove-rich land across Maharashtra, and that destruction of mangroves was in breach of the citizens’ fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution.
Environmentalists stated that this order would help in retaining the ‘protected’ tag for mangroves that already exist under the Coastal Regulation Zone notification. “After the High Court’s order back in 2005, which stayed any kind of construction within 50 meters of the mangroves, builders were able to find loopholes and seek court approval for cutting mangroves, which was allowed in the earlier verdict.
Now the latest order has retained the protected tag which was already there in the CRZ notification and has prevented builders from finding such loopholes,” said Stalin Dayanand, a Mumbai-based environmentalist.
While hearing the petitions regarding destruction of mangroves, including one by the Bombay Environment Action Group (BEAG), the court maintained that any ongoing construction work on mangrove land and its surrounding buffer zone must be stopped immediately and violators would invite legal action.
“The marking of mangroves and the 50 meters buffer zone in the development plan and regional plans under section 154 of MRTP (Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices) Act has also strengthened the protection of mangroves, as the builders or any developer cannot not tamper with the mangrove areas shown in the DP,” said Debi Goenka, executive trustee of Conservation Action Trust (formerly known as BEAG).