After initial action, cases must be closed in three months; officials must submit photos or videos after inspection.
In a major boost for laws implemented to counter mangrove destruction in Maharashtra, the mangrove committee on Monday decided that various state departments and district administrations will have to act on complaints related to mangrove destruction in 48 hours. Officials will have to submit reports, along with photographs or videos, after inspecting the site.
“While the police will file its report in 30 days, a sub-divisional officer or other officials will file a charge sheet and submit it in the court in two months. A case needs to be closed in three months,” said Jadish Patil, Konkan commissioner and chairperson of the state mangrove committee.
Other decisions taken during the first committee meeting include, resident deputy collectors along the Konkan coast will assist the forest department to identify reserved mangrove forest land, ensure it is transferred to the forest department and is identified as notified forest. Similar action will be undertaken within municipal limits by respective corporations and councils.
As per state mangrove cell, around 2,000 hectares is likely to be added to the existing 15,088 hectares of notified mangrove forests across Maharashtra. The overall mangrove cover in the state, including private land, is around 30,000 hectares.
“We will restore mangrove forests using funds from the mangrove foundation while the municipal corporation or councils will restore mangrove forests in urban areas using their own funds,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.
He added all collectors, members and various state departments were present at the meeting.
“We received numerous suggestions, which will be discussed and implemented as we meet in the coming months. The forest department will use satellite mapping to identify vulnerable mangrove areas in three months,” said Patil.
In addition, collectors along the Konkan coast have been asked to set up district and taluka-level mangrove protection committees by November-end.
“They were asked to identify a nodal officer from each department — police, revenue and forests — and share their contact details. Our control room will now directly forward complaints to these officers to ensure timely action,” Patil added.
The committee also decided that leases for aquaculture at mangrove forests along the Konkan coast will not be renewed by the district administration.
HT had reported on October 18 that the state constituted a mangrove committee comprising 22 members. The committee was formed following the landmark Bombay high court judgement related to protection of mangroves in the state. The members are responsible to look into cases of mangrove destruction, restoration and preservation in districts of Konkan based on a landmark order by the Bombay High Court (HC) for mangrove protection in Maharashtra in September.