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Mangrove cell drone to track mangrove killers in MMR

CCTV camera network across region to protect biodiversity


NatConnect Foundation

NatConnect has launched a social media campaign #MumbiodiversityBachao

NAVI MUMBAI, May 22 (The CONNECT) - In a significant development, the Maharashtra Mangrove Cell has planned to acquire a drone and set up a CCTV camera network across Mumbai Metropolitan region (MMR) to keep an eye on mangrove burials by debris and land mafia.

Responding to complaints of mangrove destruction across MMR, Virendra Tiwari, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests – Mangrove Cell, disclosed that the consultancy firm Ernst & Young to carry out a detailed survey of the vulnerable areas and suggest the costing as well.

The Mangrove Cell also plans to acquire a drone to keep an eye on the mangrove destruction, Tiwari said, addressing an online discussion hosted by environment NGO NatConnect Foundation on the eve of the International Day of Biodiversity. The NGO has launched a social media campaign #MumbiodiversityBachao focusing on the degradation in MMR and appealed to Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray to take quick steps to save the environment immediately. “Act today. Tomorrow will be too late,” said the social media message.

“We have been complaining against organized mangrove burial across the region to the High Court appointed mangrove protection and conservation committee which in turn has been asking the authorities such as the PWD, CIDCO and District collectors to act,” said B N Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation. “Though some destruction has been halted in some places, it is rampant in other places in Uran, Kharghar, Ulwe and Vashi,” he said.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF BIODIVERSITY

Despite the inaction from PWD and CIDCO, the HC appointed mangrove committee has not been able to do anything, Kumar regretted.

The Forest department is unable to take any action as the much of the mangroves in Navi Mumbai continue to be under either CIDCO. The planning body is yet to handover the mangroves to the forest department despite a three-year-old High Court order.

Even the Mangrove Committee asked CIDCO and all district collectors to hand over the mangroves to the forest department. Yet there is no movement on this front and the HC committee has not taken any action though they are empowered to do so, said Kumar.

The delay on transferring the mangroves to the forest department is giving plenty of time for the debris mafia, the land grabbers and project proponents such as NMSEZ and JNPT to bury the sea forests, Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, pointed out. He asked: “Why should the citizens be forced all the time to rush to courts against the officials not performing their duty?”

“These officials are getting paid their salaries from the taxpayers' money and they should be made accountable,” Pawar said.