The Gujarat High Court Monday issued notice to the state government on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) alleging large-scale destruction of mangroves and bunding creeks in a coastal village in Surat district.
The petitioners have alleged that mangroves, spread in 5 acres of land, have already been allegedly damaged while mangroves spread in 68 acres are facing danger of being uprooted due to an upcoming development work.
The division bench — Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice A S Dave — issued notice to the respondents while ordering to maintain status quo. The petitioners — Brackish Water Research Centre, Gujarat Khedut Samaj and others — have approached the High Court through their lawyer Anand Yagnik.
The petitioners have sought relief from restraining the firm, Pramukh Organisers LLP, from any activity on the land, located in Barbodhan village in Surat’s Olpad taluka.
According to the petitioner, the land was part of the Coastal Regulation Zone which was previously owned by Rama News Prints and Papers Ltd.
The tenure of the land was changed in 2008 and the company sought permission to mortgage it for which permission was granted by the Collector. The company, then, sought to sell the land due to financial crunch.
According to the petitioners, the state government passed a resolution dated 6/6/2013 through which it was decided to grant permission on payment of 100% premium of differential amount between existing market price and the originally allotted price. The government paid around Rs 64 crore to the company and permitted to convert it into non-agricultural land. Last year, the land was sold to Pramukh Organisers LLP for around Rs 131 crore.
According to the plea, Pramukh Organizers LLP is allegedly “uprooting and cutting of mangroves which are otherwise essential part of ecosystem”.
The petitioners’ lawyer Yagnik said that after a brief hearing, the division bench ordered to maintain status quo on the land and has issued notice. “The petition concerns the environmental damages done by the respondents. Apart from mangroves creeks, particularly, Tena creek is also blocked by the respondents for the development which will damage the ecosystem. We have submitted photographs showing how mangroves have vanished from the shore,” Yagnik said.