Following allegations of destruction of mangroves on a 25-acre-plot owned by a private builder in Dharma Nagar, Borivli (West), samples of the trees cut at the spot have been sent to the mangrove cell by the revenue department. An FIR will be filed against the private builder on the basis of the revenue department’s findings, said revenue officials.
Officials from the revenue and forest departments undertook a site inspection with the police on Tuesday evening. Prashanti Mane, tehsildar, Borivali taluka, said, “An FIR had been filed in 2010 against the same builder under the Environment Protection Act. We have written to the mangrove cell asking if the trees are mangroves, after our official visited the spot and collected samples.”
The tehsildar added that as soon as the technical authority replies with the findings, a fresh FIR would be filed against the accused. “If there has been destruction of mangroves in the area, strict action will be taken against those responsible,” said Mane.
N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, mangrove cell, said, “If something has been buried for as long as these samples have been buried, it is extremely difficult to find out whether the trees were mangroves or not, unless we do a DNA test, which is very expensive. History search on Google Maps can help find out whether mangroves existed there in the past.”
Through an order delivered in October 2005, the Mumbai high court had applied the tag of “protected forests” on mangroves located on government land, and the tag of “forests” for mangroves under private ownership in the state. It has prohibited damage to them in any form.
Harish Pandey, environmental activist and resident of Dahisar, who accompanied the officials to the site, said, “Laws need to be simplified so that cognisable offence can be filed against the offender and an FIR lodged.”
Mangroves near Borivali. (Photos: Sanjay Solanki)