A group of 20 people building an embankment (bund) in the middle of a patch of mangroves in Dahisar allegedly manhandled environmentalists in the presence of government officials on Monday.
Some volunteers from the Conservation Action Trust, a city-based environmental organisation, visited the Dahisar site with officials from the collector's office to record the dumping debris on the crucial coastal vegetation.
“They stopped us and roughed me and our volunteers,” said Debi Goenka, director, CAT. “They also snatched our cameras because we had photographic evidence of the damage.”
Goenka submitted a written complaint to the MHB police station in Borivli.
Shrirang Dhumal, the senior police inspector, MHB police station refuse to comment. No arrests were made until late on Monday.
The incident took place in the presence of the local tehsildar (revenue official) and Sanjay Sarvade, the sub-divisional officer. “I will submit a report to the collector tomorrow,” said Sarvade.
For the past three weeks, CAT volunteers and members of the New Link Road Resident Forum (NLRRF), another environmental organisation have been meeting government official to stop the dumping of debris in mangrove land.
Despite written orders from the state environment ministry to stall construction work, the collector has failed to take any action.
“They have already created a wide road in the middle of the 450-acre mangrove land,” said Mathew Samuels, chairman NLRRF.
The construction of the bund began on April 15 after a Supreme Court order.
However, the Supreme Court order prohibits destruction of mangroves. Mangroves protect the city's shoreline from tsunamis, storms, strong winds and floods.
They help prevent erosion, maintain water quality and support a wide variety of fauna.