The Bombay High Court on September 17, 2018, has held that the destruction of mangroves offends citizens’ Fundamental Rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and that the state is duty-bound to protect and preserve mangroves as per Article 21, 47 48A and 51A(g) of the Constitution of India.
The matter came up before a Division Bench comprising of Justices Abhay Oka and Riyaz Chagla in a plea filed by Bombay Environment Action Group (BEAG) regarding the destruction of mangroves in Maharashtra.
In the petition, the petitioners highlighting the importance of mangroves in the ecosystem said that the mangroves play an important role in protecting seashores from erosion, high winds and cyclone as mangroves are strategically located between the land and sea and therefore, their importance is not merely in their forest value.
The Bench has directed the state to constitute a committee headed by a divisional commissioner within one month. The committee shall be responsible for conservation of mangroves, and for the restoration of reclaimed mangrove area.
The Bench said that, “there shall be a total freeze on the destruction and cutting of mangroves in the entire State. Dumping of rubble/garbage/solid waste on the mangrove areas shall be stopped forthwith. Regardless of ownership of the land having mangroves and the area of the land, all constructions taking place within 50 metres on all sides of all mangroves area shall be forthwith stopped. That area shall be kept free of construction except construction of compound wall/fencing for its protection.”
Further, the Bench said that all mangrove land will fall in the Coastal Region Zone (CRZ) I as per notification of 1991 and 2001 and that no development permission shall be granted by any authority of the government in an area under mangroves.
The Bench also directed the State to carry out satellite mapping of mangroves cover and install CCTV cameras and barricades to keep a check on it. The government shall also create a grievance redressal mechanism for citizens to report destruction/removal of mangroves, the Bench said.