216 illegal structures removed from Mumbai’s mangroves after 10 years
The Maharashtra mangrove cell called it their largest demolition drive in Mumbai so far.mumbai Updated: Apr 26, 2017 11:22 IST
Maharashtra has upped its efforts to crackdown on mangrove destruction violators and restore wetland patches in Mumbai.
In a joint operation by the state mangrove cell and the Mumbai police, 216 illegal structures – 30 commercial establishments and 186 shanties – were removed from a three hectare mangrove patch on reserved forest area at Charkop, Kandivli on Monday.
The mangrove cell called it their largest demolition drive in Mumbai on government land so far, as close to 70 persons – 20 officials from the mangrove cell, 20 from the police and 30 labourers – destroyed the structures using two excavator machines.
According to real estate developers, a mangrove patch at Kandivli, if illegally reclaimed is worth Rs 10,000 per square foot.
The move comes a week after the mangrove forests at sector 8, Charkop, were set on fire by unidentified persons four times this year and fourteen times since last year.
Mangroves are salt tolerant plants that protect the city’s coastline from inundation. The destruction of mangrove forests across the state and construction within 50m of mangrove areas was banned by the Bombay high court in 2005. In 2014, the HC banned all reclamation and construction on wetlands and the violation is an offence under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
Mangrove cell officials said that the structures included marble showrooms, plastic and electronic warehouses, garages and even small factories from the site along with illegal tin and mud shanties.
“While there have been a number of demolition drives over the past 10 years, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) used to remove only a few structures. They would resurface within a few days,” said Makarand Ghodke, assistant conservator of forest, Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit, who passed the order for the demolition and led the drive. “We are sure that encroachments will not resurface again.”
He added that the restoration of the site will be completed by the monsoon season. “The debris removal process will start from Tuesday, following which a cleanup drive will be undertaken. We will be planting mangrove saplings at the site by July,” said Ghodke.
Meanwhile, officials from the suburban collector’s office said that a similar drive will be conducted on private mangrove patches next month.
Why you should care
· Mangroves act as a buffer zone between land and sea, protecting the land from erosion
· Mangroves absorb the impact of cyclones
· They are a breeding ground for a variety of marine animals
· Mangroves also absorb carbon dioxide, making air cleaner to breathe