Shibu Thomas, Times News Network, 18 September 2018
The Bombay High Court on Monday ordered the protection of mangroves and a 50-metre buffer zone around such plots across the state.
A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla confirmed the court’s 2005 orders banning destruction of mangroves or dumping of debris or garbage on mangrove land. The bench ordered the state to launch criminal prosecution against persons who destroy mangroves. The state has been directed to replant mangroves that have been destroyed and restore such plots. The bench said destruction of mangroves violates fundamental right to life and it is the mandatory duty of state to protect and preserve mangroves.
The final orders were delivered in a petition filed by Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG) in 2004. In 2005 in its interim orders in the matter, the HC had ordered a ban on hacking or construction on mangrove land and dumping of debris and garbage on such mangrove plots.
Since the landmark October 2005 order, the state said it has notified over 15,087 hectares of mangrove land in the seven coastal districts as “reserved forests” and replanted mangroves on over 541 hectares of land. According to the state, following the orders the state’s mangrove cover which had remained stagnant between 2005-2013 at 181 sq km had now increased to 304 sq km.