Kasaragod: As many as 54.4 hectares of mangrove forests spread across Manjeswaram and Kasaragod taluks will soon be declared as reserve forests.

The move has become a huge setback for those engaged in sand mining and encroaching river banks and seas shores for construction of resorts.

A total of 21.694 hectares on Arikkadi river bank in Bambrana-Arikkadi villages, 12 hectares in Koyippady village and 21.00121 hectares in Kasaragod village near the Chandragiri river have been notified as reserve forest.

Also moves are on to declare 10 more acres in Shiriya and Mogral areas as reserve forest.

Earlier, 237 hectares in Kannur was declared as reserve forest.

Now, all rules pertaining to reserve forests will be applicable in these areas too. Encroachment will invite one to three years of imprisonment and seizure of equipment.

A notification was issued by the forest department in September last year. Aggrieved parties were told to approach RDO within 3-6 months. Now, only an official declaration by the government is remaining.

This marks the fruitful culmination of efforts undertaken by the Forest department for the last one year. The action was initiated by district forest officer A P Imthiyas and a meeting involving district collector and revenue officials decided to conduct a survey. Based on this, a sketch was prepared.