Maharashtra Govt Notifies 1,387 Hectares of Mangroves in Thane as Forest Land

Maharashtra Govt Notifies 1,387 Hectares of Mangroves in Thane as Forest Land

The Maharashtra Government issued a gazette notification on Tuesday through the State Revenue and Forest Department, notifying 1,387.39 hectares (ha) of mangroves in Thane as forest land under Section 4 of the Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927. With this notification, Maharashtra’s reserved forest area has risen to 16,700 ha. 

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The 1,387.39 ha newly notified land is spread across 14 villages in Thane. “It’s positive news for the conservation of mangroves. This notified area is now deemed forest land. Following the legal process, revenue officials will visit these areas, and in time they will be notified as reserved forests,” Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Virendra Tiwari said. 

State Tourism and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray held a meeting with the Forest Department officials on Thursday. “I am happy to say that we have so far added 6,500 ha mangrove area to reserved forest land under section 20 of IFA, 1927, in less than a year. By June, we expect that it will increase to 10,000ha,” he tweeted after the meeting. 

A separate notification by the state will see the handing over of 1,575.16 ha mangrove land to the Forest Department for better management and conservation. This comes nearly 16 years after the Bombay High Court asked the State to take up the measure. These mangrove lands are situated in Raigad, Sindhudurg, Thane, and the Mumbai suburban region. 

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Despite instructions from the High Court in 2005 and 2018 to transfer all mangrove areas under government land to the Forest Department, it is estimated that district bodies are yet to transfer 1,592.8 ha of land. Meanwhile, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) has reportedly failed to handover nearly 1,147 ha of land under their territory to the Forest Department. 

In response to a petition filed by NGO Vanashakti demanding the immediate transfer of mangrove lands to the Forest Department, Tiwari mentioned that they are currently discussing terms with agencies like Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO).  

However, activists said that some regions were missing from the government’s list. “The list does not notify the mangroves of Uran and Navi Mumbai, where we have been highlighting the destruction of mangroves through illegal constructions,” Director of NGO Vanashakti, Stalin D said.

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