In the light of the continuous destruction of mangrove patches in Dahisar, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has written to Chief Minister Ashok Chavan asking him to take serious note of the violations.
“Mangroves are special and their destruction is a violation of rules,” said environment minister Jairam Ramesh who wrote the letter on June 26.
“The destruction has been going on despite a ban by the Bombay High Court as well as orders from the collector.”
A case is pending with the Supreme Court based on an appeal filed the Bombay Environmental Action Group on the matter.
Ramesh added that the state government must follow Gujarat and West Bengal to preserve mangroves and protect their coasts.
“Gujarat has increased its mangrove cover by almost 10 times which acts as protection from tsunami. Siimilar is the case with West Bengal,” he said.
On Monday, the vacation bench of the Supreme Court ordered status quo for one month on the construction activity on the mangrove land till the next hearing.
“We have asked for a legal examination on the matter,” said Valsa Nair Singh, state environment secretary.
The latest incident of mangrove hacking was reported on June 23 when a new patch measuring about three acres was destroyed. This despite a status quo passed on May 20 by the Collector.
Local residents alleged that this was the fourth time in the past two years that mangrove were destroyed — once in January 2009 and twice in February 2010 — police complaints for which have been registered.
“It is good that the issue has caught the minister’s attention. For a commercial capital like Mumbai, 400 acres of mangrove land is a large area,” said Dr Mathew Samuels, president, New Link Road Residents Forum.
“If they (mangroves) can be hacked here, it can happen anywhere. We hope the letter to the CM prevents the recurrence of such incidents elsewhere in the city.”
Residents who have been tracking the destruction have alleged that a Kandivali-based builder has cut the water supply to the mangroves. Besides hacking, local environmental activists have also found trucks dumping mud, stones and other kinds of concrete debris on the edges of the mangrove stretch.
The builder began the repairs of the bund defunct since 1993 on April 10 following a Supreme Court ruling in their favour. However, the ruling directed the petitioner not to destroy the mangroves. A company by Krishnadevi Malchand Khamatia owns the land.