Mumbai: Fourth fire at Charkop mangroves in a month, residents irked | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Mumbai: Fourth fire at Charkop mangroves in a month, residents irked

Residents living close to the wetland filed complaints with the district collector and state mangrove cell on Thursday about a fresh fire that charred the mangroves

mumbai Updated: Apr 06, 2017 22:32 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Officials from the Mumbai fire brigade said that when they reached the spot, the fire had spread across 20 feet.
Officials from the Mumbai fire brigade said that when they reached the spot, the fire had spread across 20 feet.(HT FILE)

The mangrove forests around sector 8, Charkop in Kandivli witnessed a fourth fire this month on Wednesday, and the fourteenth since last year.

Residents living close to the wetland filed complaints with the district collector and state mangrove cell on Thursday about a fresh fire that charred the mangroves, and had to be doused by the city fire brigade.

Officials from the Mumbai fire brigade said that when they reached the spot, the fire had spread across 20 feet and mostly garbage was burning. “Six fire officers from our Kandivli branch doused the fire within half-an-hour,” said a duty officer.

Residents said that there were two reasons why frequency of these fires was increasing. “Miscreants are trying to construct illegal shanties by lighting fires to the mangrove patches and removing them. The second cause being hawkers dumping their daily trash over the compound wall into the mangroves,” said Mili Shetty, the resident who filed the complaint. “The area is identified as a reserved forest and the mangrove cell needs to increase security.”

To control the recurring fires, civic body officials said that they will be carrying out a cleanup drive at the Charkop mangroves on April 14 and 15. “Frequent fires have become a cause of concern as some people are trying to encroach into the protected mangrove cover,” said Sahebrao Gaikwad, ward officer. “The cleanup drive will help remove the garbage so that the area does not catch fire easily. Additionally, an awareness drive will be conducted for locals.”

He added that more beat marshals will be deputed at the site to increase vigilance.

Mangrove cell officials said that after the cleanup, all encroachments will be removed from the site. “We have got clearance from the state to carry out large scale demolition drive to remove illegal shanties so that the mangrove patch is untouched. It is crucial that this patch is completely restored before the monsoon to avoid flooding,” said Makarand Ghodke, assistant conservator of forest, Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit.

Past cases

April 1, 2017 – Fire was lit during the afternoon by miscreants across a 5 metre mangrove patch that was doused by residents using buckets of water before it could further spread

March 26, 2017 – A fire was lit by unidentified persons that quickly spread across 50 metres within the mangrove area at sector 8 Charkop, which is fenced by a wall. The fire was doused after an hour.

March 8, 2017 - On March 9, a fire spread across half-a-kilometre stretch of mangroves at the same area and during the first week of February, a fire had destroyed a number of mangrove trees and was doused two hours after complaints were made.

February 8, 2017 - A minor fire reported near the compound wall along the mangrove cover at Sector 8, Charkop that destroyed a number of mangrove trees and was doused two hours after complaints were made. Residents lodged complaints with BMC but no action was taken.

December 4, 2016 - Fire spotted by local residents along one-kilometre patch at sector 8, Charkop. Residents alleged that the land mafia burnt mangrove trees to make way for illegal constructions. Fire was doused after three hours but no action was taken by BMC.

June 3, 2016 - A one-and-half acre mangrove patch was wiped out due to a raging fire during the night. Residents alerted the BMC and the Mumbai fire department. The fire was doused in a few hours.

January 21, 2016 – Local activist Reji Abrahami filed a complaint with the civic body alleging that about 350 illegal hutments had cropped up on the wetlands and recurring cases of fires were reported from Charkop (Kandivali west) in connivance with local slumlords. The civic body demolished majority of the hutments after the complaint. However, a day later the shanties resurfaced close to the same location.