The city’s mangrove cover is shrinking and under threat, but the police are yet to take action on the 23 complaints registered with them since 2005 alleging the destruction of this important coastal vegetation, reveals a recent Right to Information (RTI) query.
Mangroves protect the city’s shoreline from tsunamis, storms and floods. They prevent erosion, maintain water quality and support a wide variety of fauna.
Complaints are often made by residents who spot the mangroves being destroyed, so the offenders are often unidentified. The RTI query filed by Conservation Action Trust (CAT), a city-based environmental group, reveals that the police have not identified offenders in 22 of the cases.
The only case where the police have identified the offenders is the one against proprietors of Laxmi Asbestos Products Ltd filed in October 2005 for allegedly destroying mangroves at Bangur Nagar in Goregaon. However, no action has been taken.
“The facts reveal that the police are not serious about protecting mangrove,” said Debi Goenka, director, CAT. “We have lost mangrove stretches in Andheri and Dahisar though police stations are close to the destruction sites.”
A Bombay High Court order in 2005 banned the destruction of mangroves. Those guilty could face a jail term of up to five years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh.
The RTI reply, which came in April, states that Malvani police station has eight pending cases, the highest, followed by MHB police station in Borivli, which has seven.
Activists said Mumbai has lost around 14.8 sq km of mangrove cover in the last decade.
Amitabh Gupta, additional police commissioner, western region, was not available for comment despite repeated attempts.