Thousands of mangrove trees along the Manori-Gorai belt have been destroyed through debris dumping, according to environment groups.
In a letter to the mangrove cell, suburban collector and local ward officer, NGO Plants and Animals Welfare Society (PAWS-Mumbai) identified two locations with ongoing construction work within mangrove forests, a violation of environment laws and Bombay High Court (HC) rules.
“Close to 2,000 mangrove trees have been hacked through land filling and dumping debris along Gorai - Borivali Road, near Essel World and Global Pagoda, which not only threatens marine life but disrupts the ecosystem, flora and fauna, and also harms the buffer zone against floods,” said Sunish Subramanian Kunju, secretary, PAWS-Mumbai.
Through several images and satellite maps, the NGO identified that a gate had been setup to stop people from entering the site. A kilometre further down from the gate, excavator machines were spotted dumping debris and the area was cordoned off using tin sheets and green cloth.
“Unidentified people have also set up watchtowers at the site to check the movement of citizens so that they cannot identify the violations,” said Kunju, adding, “It is clear a road is being constructed through the mangrove forests and a resort might be in the offing.”
A 2014 Bombay high court order bans any construction or destruction with mangrove forests as mangroves protect the city from coastal inundation and harbour a variety of flora and fauna. Additionally, it is illegal to construct structures by destroying mangroves under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
Officials from district collector’s office and state mangrove cell said they were made aware of the issue on Tuesday and an inquiry will be conducted. “We have asked the complainant to share the exact location (survey number). Our officers will check the violation as the area is susceptible to such activity,” said Deependra Singh Kushwa, Mumbai suburban collector.
“As of now, we are not aware whether this area is a reserved forest, but I have already directed two teams to visit the spot to investigate the issue,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.