A fire broke out across a 500m-stretch of mangroves at Charkop in Kandivli on Thursday. This is the second time this year that the city’s mangroves were charred and the tenth such, since 2016.
Residents alleged that unidentified people had been dumping garbage and lighting fires to clear the trees and build illegal shanties at the site. “It took the fire department an hour to douse the flames this time. These incidents are on the rise because people want to enter the areas illegally and construct structures,” said Mili Shetty, Charkop resident. “Since temperatures are rising and the leaves are dry, the wind on this stretch allows the fire to spread faster.”
The fire was doused after residents saw smoke emanating from the stretch behind a compound wall where mangrove trees were ablaze, and informed the Mumbai fire brigade. “We have been receiving regular calls from residents complaining about fires, especially from sector 8. There is a lot of garbage that is dumped at the site, which leads to the recurring fires,” said an official from the Mumbai fire control.
In the first week of February, a number of mangrove trees caught fire at the same location. It had taken two hours to douse the fire, after complaints were made.
State mangrove cell officials said that residents had been told not to dump garbage at the site. “Mangrove trees do not catch fire easily as they have a lot of water stored near the roots. Since this area is not marked as a reserved forest, it does not fall under our jurisdiction, but we will inform the police and civic body to sensitise citizens,” said Makarand Ghodke, assistant conservator of forest, Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials said that the issue was a matter of concern and they had already initiated action. “We have instructed a team to patrol the area, fine anyone who is found dumping garbage and identify the ones responsible for lighting fires. A letter will be dispatched to the local police station so that they can look into the matter,” said Sahebrao Gaikwad, ward officer, R south.
WHAT ARE MANGROVES
Mangroves are salt-tolerant plants, trees, shrubs or ground fern of tropical and subtropical intertidal regions of the world. The specific regions where these plants occur are termed as ‘mangrove ecosystem’. These are highly productive but extremely sensitive and fragile. Besides mangroves, the ecosystem also harbours other plant and animal species.
Why should you 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