The state government has approved a special scheme to preserve mangroves on public and private land and to provide employment opportunities — linked to mangrove cover — to people of the selected areas. The decision will help in protecting mangroves on around 30,000 hectares.
On Tuesday, the state cabinet approved the Mangrove Protection and Employment Generation Scheme for 2017-18 and has made Rs 15 crore budgetary provision for it. Under the scheme, 50 villages in the coastal districts such as Palghar, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg will be selected for the current financial year.
The officials from the state government said the employment would be generated by setting up businesses such as crab farming, bee keeping, rice farming, fish farming and tourism. The businesses can be run through a committee or by an individual. “In case of a committee, the government will invest 90 per cent while beneficiaries will have to invest 10 per cent. But in case of individual businesses, 75 per cent money will be invested by the government and 25 per ent by the individual,” said an official.
In financial year 2018-19 and 2019-20, a total of 75 new villages will be selected under this scheme. “The idea is to generate employment linked to mangrove cover. It will help in many people coming forward voluntarily for preserving mangroves,” said an official.
The officials further said the funds required would be made available from district development, mangrove foundations apart from allocation from the state government. A state level committee headed by the Principal Chief Forest Conservator (Wildlife), including district collectors of coastal regions will be formed to coordinate the project.
The official added that the committees would be set up in villages having mangrove cover to ensure group benefits by forming organisational structure. The committee will also prepare a micro plan for mangrove preservation, protection, setting up protection fences and improving quality of mangroves.
Meanwhile, the state government has also decided to provide LPG at concessional rates to villages in close proximity to forests under the Shyamaprasad Mookerjee Jan Van Vikas Scheme.