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Mangrove Deforestation in Coringa | Habitat Loss

In the recent years, fishermen across India have been facing tough challenges, whether it be encroaching waters due to climate change, decrease in fish populations due to polluted waters, unemployment or an occasional cyclone.

If that wasn’t enough, the government is quick to expeditiously dispose of the cases pertaining to their rights, eating away at their livelihood. Such is the case of the district of Dummalapeta in the port town of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, where 150 acres of mangrove forests have been desecrated by the government to be distributed as sites under a housing scheme.

As per the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the disputed land is part of the Coringa forest, the 2nd Largest Mangrove forest in India and falls under Coastal Regulation Zone-IA. This category recognizes the land as an essential part of the ecosystems near the sea prohibiting human and industrial activity close to the coastline, making the distribution of land a direct violation of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

The case was taken to the National Green Tribunal by NGT and Supreme Court advocate Sanjay Upadhyay who filed a petition on behalf of environmental activist Bolisetty Satyanarayana in Chennai. The concerned District Collector and Forest officer were to be questioned and to be testified but the case proceedings had to be adjourned in August due to the country-wide lockdown during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

This was taken advantage of and trees were cut in large numbers from February to May 2020, violating the lockdown and has spelled doom for the farmers as the flow of water had to be stopped to level the land stagnating the water channels putting the livelihood of 15 villages with a population of about 90,000 fisherfolk at risk.

The deforestation of Kakinada has led to serious repercussions for its eco-system, as the soil washes away with every high tide without any mangroves to hold onto it, violating the Wetland Conservation and Management Act, 2010. Furthermore, a number of species of animals and fishes have decreased in the area within a short span of time due to increased human activities, violating the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Under these circumstances, it is imperative that the National Green Tribunal takes action to protect the fragile coastal ecosystems and provides proper compensation to the fishermen whose livelihood has been jeopardized by the actions of the government.

- Ishaan Dimri


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