Over 300 mangrove trees in a two-acre plot near Kalwa creek bridge, opposite BN Bandodkar College of Science, Thane, have been destroyed to make way for illegal housing, according to a complaint filed on Wednesday. This is the fifth such case in a span of one year.
A complaint was filed with the Thane collector’s office by Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishthan, a group representing fishermen who have said that the destruction of mangroves and reclamation of land at the edge of the creek could lead to flooding considering the onset of the monsoon season in less than a week.
“This site is not far away from the concerned authority, the collectors’ office, yet it has gone unnoticed. Mangrove trees have been chopped for the purpose of illegal housing. The reclamation has been done at the edge of the creek, almost at the water level. With the monsoons just around the corner, it would pose a serious threat to the life of people residing at the site illegally,” said Nandkumar Pawar, director, Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishthan.
Pawar pointed out that the illegal reclamation was in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification 1991. “The collector needs to take immediate action against this ecologically-sensitive issue and relocate people and restore the site to its original status,” he said.
The destruction of mangrove forests across the state and construction within 50m of mangrove areas was banned by the Bombay high court in 2005, after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by the NGO Bombay Environment Action Group. In 2014, after environment campaigner Vanashakti filed another PIL on the protection of wetlands, the HC banned all reclamation and construction on wetlands.
Thane district’s new collector, Dr Mahendra Kalyankar told HT that his office had taken cognisance of the complaint. “We have already deputed our circle officer to visit the site and investigate the issue. If we find any violation at the location, we will penalise the violators,” he said.
HT had reported on January 8, April 1 and19, regarding different cases of mangrove destruction at Thane. While some of the cases were regarding debris dumping, others were related to garbage being dumped and burnt at wetlands.