Dense mangroves abutting Manori creek in sector 8, Charkop, are under threat again, with unidentified people dumping debris and setting fire to the vegetation, locals said.
A large part of the mangroves, close to 40 hectares, spread across sector 8 are notified as protected forests, while close to 10 hectares located on private land are not notified.
Locals living at Turzon Point road said they have seen fires at the mangroves. One stretch, the size of a school ground, is now completely charred. Mangroves that are not notified as forests are also protected under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.
Destroying mangroves is an offence under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and Environment Protection Act, 1986.
“Though the blazes are infrequent compared to last year, debris dumping continues brazenly and encroachments on the southern end of the mangroves near Sector 2 are mushrooming steadily,” said Mili Shetty, a resident of Sai Siddhi building, at Turzon Point road.
A few other locals had sent complaints to the state mangrove cell and the territorial wing of the forest department, but received no response.
“We have been sending alerts and reminders to authorities about the mangrove destruction from May. Several times, we have had to call the fire brigade to put out the blazes,” said a Charkop resident on the condition of anonymity.
Ironically, the illegal activities have been occurring barely a kilometre from forest land where close to 80,000 mangrove saplings were planted on 19 hectares in March this year as part of the mangrove cell’s plantation drive.
The destruction of mangroves at Charkop is becoming intensive by the day and fearing the involvement of local strongmen, residents are unwilling to complain regularly.
When contacted, Vasudev Patil, assistant conservator of forest, state mangrove cell, said, “If complaints have been sent, we will visit the area and inspect the extent and nature of mangrove destruction.”