Friday, September 22, 2023
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Resurrection of Uran mangroves after Destruction by NHAI Expansion

Restoration of inter-tidal waters is the key, say greens

NatConnect Foundation

Mangroves grow on their own without human intervention, if the tidal water flow is intact

NAVI MUMBAI: In what environmentalists described as Nature’s wonder, over 5,000 mangroves destroyed in the expansion of a highway in Uran have now fully grown with the restoration of intertidal water.

The water flow was blocked in 2018 along NH-348 when the activists brought it to the notice of the High Court appointed Mangrove Protection and Conservation Committee which called for a spot inspection report. CIDCO officials who accompanied the revenue-forest departments’ joint inspection promised to write to the NHAI.

“We met the then Konkan Divisional Commissioner and mangrove committee chairman Jagdish Patil, who promised action,” recalled B N Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation. The NGO also sent an email to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.

The stagnant murky water was poison for the mangroves and the 5,000 plus plants remained dead with the locals cutting them for firewood, Kumar said.

“Apart from Uran, these mangroves also protect several container stations in the area and our pleas to restore the water flow were ignored for a long time,” said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan.

It also adversely impacted the fishing community who used to thrive on the tidal water flow, Pawar said.

“Finally, the water flow was restored last year and today we see big mangrove plants at the site which is highly pleasing after what we saw four years ago,” Pawar said.

The culprits who were responsible for the death of the mangroves are yet to be brought to book. The revenue department which filed FIRs in a few other cases has not taken any legal action as yet in the NH348 incident, Kumar said.

The activists once again wrote to the Mangrove Committee which is empowered to take all necessary steps, Pawar said.

In yet another site at Pagote in Uran itself, mangroves across five acres on the NMSEZ site were chopped in 2019. The tidal plants began to grow all over again last year as the water flow was not disturbed.

These two cases prove very clearly that mangroves grow on their own without human intervention and if the tidal water flow is intact, said Kumar.

Thus, the entire exercise of compensatory plantation in lieu of mangrove destruction for infrastructure projects is a waste of money, Pawar said and pointed out: “Moreover, there is hardly any place left for mangrove seeding.” The mudflats must be left free as fish breeding grounds and bird destinations. Destruction of mudflats also badly disturbs the biodiversity, he said.