Stalin Dayanand, project director of NGO Vanashakti, which has filed a PIL in the Bombay high court, following which all reclamation and construction on wetlands was banned, talks to HT about the issue.
Having filed more than 100 odd complaints of wetland/mangrove destruction, seldom did I see the system respond. Fed up with government apathy, a few environmentally conscious citizens banded together and filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay high court. A damning report by the chief conservator of forests to the court showed that mangroves/wetlands were decimated.
Dahisar residents are fighting a protracted battle to free mangrove areas that are being reclaimed and used for parking of hundreds of tourist buses and sand mining. Token raids were launched after informing the bus owners in advance to clear the site, not restore it, allowing it to be occupied once again the next day. Similarly, in Gorai, a private cab aggregator took over mangrove lands to make a mega parking lot. Oshiwara residents are battling to save 400 acres of mangrove lands from being overrun by daily dumping of debris continues. Along Thane Ghodbunder road even today,debris are dumped daily on mangroves, construction of eight tall buildings complete, despite complaints filed at the time when the first truckload of debris had been dumped. The biggest graveyard of mangroves is in Anjur Dive, Thane, a 2km road, which was made illegally by dumping on 20-ft tall mangrove trees, almost 10,000 trucks or more of debris. Despite repeated complaints, the basic joint site inspection hasn’t been done by the collector’s office till date. The response from the system is a big zero. The fact that the 2002 satellite imagery of Kapil Sharma`s site showed no mangroves was also conveniently ignored. Chincholi Bunder, Malad, is another site where acres of mangroves that have been dumped and constructed on. Hundreds of acres of mangroves and wetlands in CRZ have been destroyed in the last five years. Complaints and pictures of full-grown mangroves being reclaimed by MCGM in their waste dumping sites have gone unheeded. MCGM has located all their dumping sites inside Mangroves.
All said and done Kapil Sharma has emerged as a brand ambassador for the cause of conservation of mangroves and I thank him for that.