Chat Archives
Chat on "Mangroves of India" dated January 18, 2004

    Susan Welcome to IWC chat on "Mangroves of India"

    Vivek Hello! Susan

    Susan Thanks for coming on time.

    Vivek Mangroves are tropical and subtropical littoral plants growing at

    the interface between land and sea. They grow on clayee soil which is flat

    and sloping gently (mud-flats) and in the region where tidal action brings

    in water regularly. Mangroves are found extensively in the estuarine

    regions where mud-flats are wide and gently sloping. Besides estuaries,

    they also inhabit the intertidal regions of shallow bays and creeks where

    the environment is conducive for the growth of mangroves.

    Vivek That is a starter for people who would be joining soon.

    Susan Can I start by asking you to tell us in brief about your work in

    Mumbai wetlands?

    Vivek Yeah! I started working on Mangroves in Mumbai in 1993. I joined the

    Mangrove Project of the Soonabai Godrej Foundation.

    Vivek It is 1750 acres of mangrove land which was subject to several

    assaults before late eighties.

    Susan Welcome Jayant.

    Vivek The project has a three pronged approach of research, education and


    Vivek The project which was launched in 1985 has now become a success

    story and most of the mangrove awareness in Mumbai is because of this

    success story. Right now we are majorly working on education and conservation.

    Susan What are the awareness measures taken by you?

    Vivek We are having an Interpretation Centre. Amar Deshpande is our

    Education Officer. We have prepared several modules and regularly conduct

    programmes comprising nature trails, slide shows, campaigns, quiz etc. for

    various groups. We are also helping Government, NGOs or individuals who needs help to conserve mangroves, in any way.  This year (from June 93) we have done 50+ programmes.

    Besides, I write. I have contributed to several magazines also

    spoken on most of the channels through different programmes.

    Susan Do mangroves exist where river & land meet ?

    Most North Indian staes are without sea coast. There are no

    mangroves here?

    Vivek That is precisely the place where mangroves come luxuriently. Major

    mangroves of the world are deltaic.

    Vivek I am sorry, I read it as river meets the sea. The north Indians have no local word for mangroves because, they do not grow there.

    Jayant Mangorves are considerd as waste land in our country, hence most


    Vivek No! I feel they are considered dispensible and that is why


    Susan Which are the major mangroves in Northern parts?

    Jayant Vivek as I have never been in a mangorve on a trail can you tell

    more about the life found in this ecosysem

    Vivek The biggest mangrove in the northern India is Sunderbans. The other

    important mangrove areas are: Cori Creek in Kutch, Gulf of Kutch, Bhitar

    Kanika in Orissa and Mahanadi Delta.

    Jayant The bengali name for mangrove is sundari hence its Sundaban am I

    right ?

    Susan I suppose many of these are also Ramsar sites

    Vivek The mangroves are transition areas between sea and land. So they

    have life from oceanic system as well as land. A brief list would be :

    Mammals like jungle cat or fishing cat, wild boars, jackal, a variety of

    aquatic mammals like otters, Birds, reptiles like snakes, crocs,

    amphibians, fish and a variety of lower animals.

    Vivek Sundari is not a word for mangroves, it is a specific mangrove tree

    called Heritiera fomes. The word Sunderban has come from Sundari. That is


    Susan Mangroves are also nurseries for fishes.

    Jayant That means they have a spectacular diverse life

    save_wildlife HI PPL

    Susan Hi save_wildlife!

    Vivek Hi! Save Wildlife?

    save_wildlife mangroves hmm

    Vivek Only Sunderban is a ramsar site.

    Jayant it means mangroves are a must for our fishing industry

    save_wildlife how"?

    save_wildlife i mean how r mangroves and fishing related?

    Vivek absolutely. where will fish breed otherwise?

    save_wildlife mangroves r trees

    Vivek mangrove word is used for the plants in the ecosystem called mangle.

    Susan Mangroves are wetlands- can have breathing roots of trees- but no


    Jayant the BKC & other reclamation sites in mumbai have been "reclaimed"

    by destroying Mangroves

    akriti ok

    Vivek Yes jayant. u r right

    Susan Welcome Akriti

    akriti btw i'm save_wildlife...just changed my name.  how do u people know so much?

    Jayant the pressures to destroy mangorves must be very great in mumbai

    Vivek Mumbai is a small problem. The biggest culprit is agriculture and

    aquaculture .  More than 80% of mangroves in Maharashtra have been destroyed by these two activities.

    Jayant   how do yu counter this aquaculture?? i do not get this

    Susan Vivek what are your views on the SethuSamudram Project? I believe it

    will destroy precious mangroves

    Vivek The only way to counter is by spreading awareness and fighting legal

    battles. We have a hopeless political situation and courts are the only doors for us to knock.

    Vivek Hi! Noooreeen, mangroves have been identified by the GoI as the

    ecological hotspots along with the reefs.

    Vivek.Dam will affect the sea grass beds and the coral reefs more than the  mangroves.

    akriti Vivek what is ur age?

    Susan Akriti, Vivek has written books on mangroves. Where can one get them


    Vivek I am 36.

    Vivek Probably BNHS will have some stock.

    nooreeen i think mangroves are a relayy important part of the environment

    for all species and have to be maintained

    akriti sorry but i have to go now

    Vivek In different parts of the world, Mangroves are called as 'mangals',

    'coastal woodlands', 'tidal forests' etc. and are littoral plant

    formations. There is a great confusion about the term mangroves itself.

    Many people confuse mangroves as man made wetlands because of the term

    "man" in the word mangroves. The Shorter Oxford Dictionary describes the

    word "mangrove" as obscurely connected with the Portuguese word "mangue"

    and the Spanish word "mangle" and the English word "grove" and it dates

    its origin as 1613. This explaination of the origin of the word has been

    largely accepted throughout the world. However, Martha Vannucci in her

    book "The Mangrove and Us" points out that the word is neither Portuguese

    nor Spanish and, after an exhaustive search, she concludes that the word

    "mangue" derives from the national language of Senegal. She comments that

    it was probably adopted by the Portuguese, and later modified by the

    Spanish, as a result of their exploration of the coast of West Africa.

    nooreeen i think that just the fact that they provide an important shelter

    for the many endangered species makes them a valuble peice of natural

    heritage and we CANNOT afford to lose them

    Jayant vivek can you spell out more on auquaculture

    nooreeen akriti and i work together in a club bascically focusing on the

    tiger and we are trying to promote awareness on that topic, like to

    underpriveleged children who should really understand whats going on. we

    have done quite a number of workshops. but for some time we are doing a

    project on the yamuna and water related problems

    Susan Excellent Nooreen

    Vivek Aquaculture is a classic example. They need the mangroves because

    the prawn spawn is only found in the mangroves as they breed there. Then

    the area is cleared right within the mangroves and the crops are taken.

    nooreeen Thank you but we want to do a lot more in the water department like making everyone feel a part of this project because it relates to everyone and so

    we are doing a interactive session with cancer pateints and underpriveleged children as normal school kids

    quaggalife Hi every one sorry I am late

    Vivek most often the prawn farms are short lived and you have to shift to

    other sites. The abundant farms can neither support mangroves, nor they

    can support agriculture, leaving acres and acrs of land as saline blanks.

    Jayant but isint this hurting them more as the next generation of prawns

    hve no mangroves to spawn                    

    Susan Shoot your questions quaggalife!

    Vivek We have several such examples throughout the world in Gambia,

    Kalimantaan in Indonesia, and several others.

    Jayant it reminds of the jhoom cultivation

    quaggalife Yes Susan I am just catching up with the discussion.     

    nooreeen so where do the next generation shift to.   

    Jayant can education not solve this problem

    nooreeen i think it can    until people are aware how do we find a solution ar execute it

    quaggalife Tellme how why should a urbanite should know about mangroves

    what difference does it make to them?

    Vivek We are all literate not educated. That is the problem. Besides being

    environmental, these are social issues. They have a full circle starting

    from civics and ending at politics.      

    Jayant true, but prawns must be a very lucrative business and hence very

    powerful lobbies      

    Vivek Hi! Quaggalife! You have a valid question. Do you live in a coastal


    nooreeen it depends on the body who is trying to reach the urbanite they

    have to strecth out in a way which captures the ordinary urbanites

    interest and that lays stress on the topic and the group

    quaggalife True very true but it is also correct to say that there  are

    enough people around who are concerned

    quaggalife No I amin Delhi that spends a lot on hype about environment

    Vivek No! there aren't enough people! Unless every individual or atleast

    80% of the Junta adopts a conscious life, we cannot say there are enough


    nooreeen that is a problem unless among children, for example, you let

    them grow in an atmosphere that is concerned about these problems, like a

    school which is the learning centres for children and a perfect place to

    encourage this type of learning

    Jayant are mangroves found in chilika?

    Vivek environment is not a subject but a way of life.

    nooreeen make them concerned

    Vivek Noor you are right but again, we need to concentrate on various

    levels. We cannot wait till children grow up?

    Jayant a way f life which we have left far far behind in our quest for


    nooreeen for many people they dont understand the relationship of the

    environment with our life.teach it as a way of life so that they respect


    Vivek Urbanisation can be achieved along with the environment friendly

    lifestyle. That was the success story of the Godrej Mangrove Project

    quaggalife Ok lets talk about schools. They get Rs5000 from state

    government and Rs1000 fron center for environment education. What they

    encourage is subscription of Times of India and Hindustan times at Rs90

    each anual subscription. It has all the environmnet of wrong type isnt it

    quaggalife See its like this 26 pages of 6lakhs copy every day in schools

    for say 300 days is actually that many trees are cut for a price of only

    Rs90 ridiculous

    Susan Is there a website about the Godrej project? IWC can give a link to


    nooreeen put environmental science as an extra curricular activity as well

    as in the curriculum and join the organization doing something like WWF or



    quaggalife Its there and now supreme court has also given a directive on a

    national level but who cares

    nooreeen how do you reach adults who are not concerned

    Vivek Godrej website is also on the link of Wetlands International site.

    Susan Thanks, Vivek

    quaggalife Most of the schools are ignoring this giving parents objections

    as n excuse

    Susan IWC is trying to attract the adult who is casual about environ &


    Vivek Jayant, Chilika has very little mangroves. You know about the

    shifting sand bars of chilika?

    Jayant No

    nooreeen who knows about the mongooses and how they are endangered, out of  the city delhi almost no one, nil. i learnt about it through a documentary

    quaggalife how

    nooreeen so the different smaller , insignificant problems that are

    becoming big should be put up on IWC chat

    Jayant all i know of chilika is that a prime wetland had fallen to a big

    indutrial house for prawn farming

    Vivek Chilika is only separated from the Bay of Bengal by sand bars. Due

    to oceanic currents and wave actions these sand bars are not permanent and

    the opening to sea keeps on shifting. Interesting?

    Susan Can you suggest a topic for next month's chat?

    Jayant Small mamals

    quaggalife Susan lets have topic say should the animals have legal rights

    nooreeen ya maybe that

    Vivek I want all of you to give consideration to the impacts of river

    linking on mangroves.

    Vivek We may even lose Sunderbans.

    quaggalife Susan lets have topic say should the animals have legal


    Jayant Right in human courts? ..

    Susan That is an interesting topic

    Jayant yes that would be disaster

    quaggalife start the discussion first rest we will see

    Susan Sahara City is coming up in Sunderbans-despite it being a Ramsar


    nooreeen if we lose the sunderbans we would have lost a huge peice of

    natural wealth

    quaggalife Vivek Sunderban is now Sahara's property

    Vivek Everytime I spoke to Suresh Prabhu, he answered that he has this as

    a concern and wants to carry out a study. You know what these studies are?

    Jayant yes

    nooreeen most studies take two to five years and end up telling us nothing


    Vivek Sunderban is above Ramsar, it is a World Heritage Site. It is also a

    transnational ecosystem.

    Vivek Sahara Project should be condemned at every level.

    Jayant but oil is being explored right there by a dutch firm

    Jayant It seems Ongc too has found gas there

    nooreeen dont you guys sometimes wonder how wonderful india is and how

    divers in culture as well as nature and its diffeerent ecosystems ad


    nooreeen isnt the sunderban a UNESCO site as well

    Vivek Yes noor, that is what I said, the World Heritage Site which is

    nominated by UNESCO

    Vivek Sunderban is a recent gold mine. As I said in the begining,

    mangroves being dispensible, that is the least of the issues for


    noreeen ok well i have to go

    Jayant vivek, susan and all others I have to call off, nice to be here

    today.Special thanks to Susan as I would have missed this enlightining


    Vivek Other important issue is progressive weakening of CRZ

    Jayant thanks vivek for a very "dil se" chat

    Jayant vivek, susan and all others I have to call off, nice to be here


    Susan Thanks Noor

    Vivek Yes! It was nice talking to everybody. Shall we adjourn Susan?

    Jayant bye

    Susan Vivek, you have inspired such a lively talk. You must log in more


    Susan Yes and thanks again Vivek.

    quaggalife Bye what is the next topic

    Susan We will announce it in the next ezine.

    Vivek I will try. But I have hectic schedules. Also my son is 1 yr. old

    and he demands my attention for whatever little time I give for home.

    quaggalife is the chat over

    Susan For today yes. Log in next month same time same day !

    Vivek Bye Everybody!   

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