Activists file complaints against Kapil Sharma for mangrove destruction
Officials from the state mangrove cell said they visited the site following the complaintmumbai Updated: Sep 10, 2016 17:42 IST
Two city-based activists filed two separate complaints with the Versova Police station on Saturday morning against comedian-actor Kapil Sharma for the alleged dumping of debris at wetlands and the destruction of mangroves near his Andheri (West) office.
The move comes a day after Sharma tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi about alleged corruption in the Brinhanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Following this, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis promised to take strict action on Friday. Later in the day, civic body officials asked Sharma to reveal the names of the corrupt officials.
The first complaint was filed at 4.30am by activist and Jogeshwari resident, Asad Patel, alleging illegal construction and dumping of debris on wetlands at Bungalow 70 – 71 on Jankidevi Public School Road, SV Patel Nagar, Andheri (West).
“The place is full of mangroves. A prudent man can see that encroachment has taken place,” said Patel. “We demand strict action against Sharma under laws such as the Environment Protection Act, 1986, Forest Act 1927 and various Bombay high court orders regarding the conservation of mangroves,” he added.
The second complaint was filed by Watchdog Foundation, an NGO, with the chief minister, municipal commissioner, state mangrove cell, Versova police and the union environment ministry alleging unauthorised construction at wetlands.
“Sharma committed a crime by illegally constructing structures in a Costal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and destroying mangroves to extend the area of his bungalow. The site within five metres of a thick patch of mangroves,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation.”We demand Sharma’s arrest. The civic body must look into several other illegal constructions along this site.”
Officials from the state mangrove cell said they visited the site following the complaint. “No mangroves have been destroyed in areas under the jurisdiction of the state mangrove cell. However, the complaint for the alleged construction identifies a site under the jurisdiction of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell. “We are investigating whether any mangroves were destroyed.”
On July 16, the BMC submitted a notification to Sharma highlighting an unauthorised horizontal extension of his ground-plus-two bungalows. He was asked to stop work within 24 hours of receiving the notice. “If you fail to stop the execution of work or fail to produce permission within 24 hours, without any further notice, said building or work will be pulled down,” the BMC notice read. On August 4, the BMC demolished parts of the extensions.
While the structure is still a ground-plus-two, officials said they will initiate action. Sharma alleged that he had been asked for a bribe to regularise the extension, tweeting, “I am paying 15 crores income tax from last 5 years and still I have to pay 5 lacs bribe to BMC office for making my office @NarendraModi.”
BJP MLA Ram Kadam had submitted an application with the cyber police in Mumbai suggesting that the investigation against the corrupt officials be handed over to a competent authority. Officials from the cyber cell said the case will most likely be transferred to the anti-corruption bureau.