The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) seems to never learn from its mistakes. It has marked 37 plots on the mangroves in Versova in its development plan (DP), despite the error being pointed out in the DP released last year, which has been scrapped, and an HC order terming the land a protected forest in 2006.
Although the current environmental norms don’t permit construction on mangroves, local residents fear the demarcation in the DP could open them up for development at a later stage, if the rules are relaxed.
The coastal road project -- which involves reclaiming land from the sea -- planned in the vicinity makes the mangroves more vulnerable to destruction, say residents, who plan to send their objections to the BMC by July 27, when the 60-day period for public comments ends.
The BMC, however, claims the map only reflects the plots and survey numbers in the revenue department’s land records. “It does not mean the plots can be developed,” said a civic official.
Suburban collector, Deependra Singh Kuswah, responsible for revenue department’s land records, said that he would study the issue. “I will check our records and respond to the issue.”
The state government had allocated the plots to different societies between 1992 and 1995, which the local residents, under the banner of ‘Save Andheri Versova Environment (SAVE) forum, challenged in the Bombay high court (HC). The HC struck down the allotment in 2006.
Rajesh Vora, a member of the forum, said the DP shows the lack of coordination between the departments.
“After the HC order, the forest department declared the plot as protected forest. It was the job of the revenue department to ensure the allotments were cancelled. It is surprising that it hasn’t been done despite the HC’s order,” said Vora. “The BMC should have questioned the revenue department for showing these plots,” said another resident.
According to the ministry of environment and forest, land occupied by mangroves falls under coastal regulation zone-I, where construction is not allowed. The civic body had sponsored the construction of a fence around these mangroves to protect them.