The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) have agreed to hand over 1,014 hectares of mangrove land to the Mangrove Conservation Cell over the next fortnight.
Of the total land, 815 hectares are being given by JNPT, India's largest shipping container terminal and the remaining 199 hectares by MMRDA, under the Bombay High Court (HC) order dating back 16 years.
Maharashtra Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray informed through Twitter that land had been handed over to Forest Department as mangroves.
He wrote, "Over the last 2 years, our regular meetings with Forest Dept and mangrove cell has got more than 11,000 ha of land under the protection of the Indian Forest Act officially."
Land Handed Over
Mangrove Cell Chief Virendra Tiwari said that only MMRDA land with actual mangroves is to be taken over, reported The Times of India. This land includes salt pans; Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) plots reserved for recreation, school, etc; creeks. Much of this land is being given for metro works.
An environmentalist and NatConnect Director BN Kumar said that in the case of JNPA, it is still to account for 100 hectares of mangroves which is equivalent to 10 Azad Maidans.
He said, "It's very clear that about 100 ha, equivalent to the size of ten Azad Maidan, is yet to be handed over. The government must immediately ask JNPT to give an account of this area and transfer the land in compliance with HC directions," quoted Hindustan Times.
Previous Court Orders
In 2005, Maharashtra decreed that all encroached land owned by authorities would be freed and handed over to MMRDA for protection. According to the 2018 Bombay High Court order, all mangrove land for conservation was to be handed over to the forest department. However, the activists report delays in the process.