Giving a big boost to the green environmentalist and the public the Mumbai high court asked the Maharashtra government to amend the plan laid out for the development projects around the mangrove. It also ordered state protection of five large mangrove patches in the suburbs
The court asked the government to come up with such a plan that does not destroy the mangroves but exists in harmony with the place. The court said "Nobody is contesting the necessity of development and infrastructure projects, but it does not have to be antagonistic to the preservation of mangroves." "You can do it in a manner in which there is minimal destruction of mangroves."
A division bench comprising of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud is waiting to look into the new plans to be proposed by agencies like BMC, CIDCO and the Central Railway on August 22nd. The court was unhappy with the earlier plans and explanation of the government as to why it had failed to notify more than 50% of mangrove areas as "protected forests".
"Why can't there be a sensible solution to the whole problem," asked the Chief Justice. "Has anybody even given a thought to protecting these large swathes of mangroves?".
There is a total of 5,938 hectares of mangrove areas along the state's coast of which only 2,175 hectare has been declared by the state government as protected forest. The rest 3,780 hectare has been left for infrastructural and development projects.
Replying to this information the judges said that "You should have planned projects in such a way so as not to destroy mangroves."
Many of the CIDCO infrastructure projects, including holding ponds, water channels, roads and bridges were stalled owing to a ban imposed by the HC in 2005 against any construction in the mangrove area.
Advocate Suresh Kumar, counsel for the railways, also sought exemption from the ban for the CR's project to lay a 22-km track between Nerul and Uran. Kumar said while most of the earthwork was completed, railways required permission to reclaim mangrove plots at three spots to lay tracks, including a huge stretch that has seven hectares of mangroves.
The judges suggested that instead of reclaiming land, railways ought to have explored the possibility of constructing a bridge over the creek, which would allow tidal water to flow into the mangrove plots.