All mangroves in Navi Mumbai under CCTV surveillance by December: Forest dept
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All mangroves in Navi Mumbai under CCTV surveillance by December: Forest dept

cities Updated: Jan 10, 2019 00:49 IST

Officials check CCTV cameras installed near mangroves in Vashi along the Sion-Panvel Highway on experimental-basis.(Bachchan Kumar/HT )

To curb destruction of mangroves in Navi Mumbai, the forest department has decided to installed CCTV cameras at all important nodes in the city. The forest officials are surveying areas to install the cameras. If everything goes as per their plans, then entire mangrove cover in the city will be monitored using the CCTV cameras by December, a senior official said.

Mangroves in Navi Mumbai are being illegally reclaimed through debris dumping, which mostly happens at night . Some set mangrove forests on fire. Six fires were reported from various mangroves cross Navi Mumbai in the first three weeks of December (see box).

Prakash Chaudhary, range forest officer, Navi Mumbai mangrove cell, said, “Two cameras were installed near the mangroves at Vashi village along the Sion-Panvel highway last month. It was done to keep tab on miscreants who have been dumping debris at the nearby mangroves. Althought a pilot project, situation improved after the cameras were installed.”

He added the positive resulted have encouraged the authorities install more CCTV cameras in the city.

“Officials are surveying mangroves at Airoli, Ghansoli, Kopar Khairane, Sanpada, Nerul and CBD Belapur. As soon as the locations are shortlisted, we’ll sinatll CCTV cameras. By December, we’ll have network of CCTV cameras that will help us keep an eye on the mangroves in the city,” Chaudhary added.

He said each node will get at least two cameras and the number will increase gradually.

“We are planning to install night vision cameras so that they can capture the miscreants who dump debris at nights. The cameras will be operated through solar power, like we are doing at Vashi now. With the help of internet, we will be able to monitor the cameras both from our branch office at Airoli or at the head office in Mumbai,” Chaudhary further said.

According to the statemangrovecell, there are 1,471 hectare ofmangroveforests in government-owned land in Navi Mumbai, which are protected by the law.

After a public interest litigation (PIL) by Bombay Environment Action Group — an NGO in Mumbai — in 2005, the Bombay high court had banned destruction ofmangrovesacross the state and construction within 50m of them. After environment group Vanashakti filed another PIL, the HC banned all reclamation and construction on wetlands in 2014.

The Bombay High Court in 2010 said thatnonon-forestactivitycan be permitted in the areas wheremangrovesgrow, even if such areas have not been yet declared as 'protectedforests'.

The activists from the city has welcomed the move. Manish Sharma, 43, an activist from Nerul said, “It is a great move as far as the protection of the mangroves are concerned. Two to three cameras in a node may not be sufficient. But we can understand that the forest department has also limitations. The number of cameras can always be increased in accordance with the requirements.”

Sudhir Kulkarni, 52, another activist said, “The miscreants in Navi Mumbai are getting emboldened as most of them manage to get away by committing the crimes. Now with the CCTV cameras in place, they will not dare to dump debris or set the trees on fire. If nothing much, the number of such activities will plummet. We are glad with this move.”

Recent fires at mangroves

December 3: Afirebroke out inmangrovesat Ulwe.It came to light after Shubhangi Tirodkar, a resident and nature lover, spotted a few miscreants settingfireto dry grass nearmangroves.

December 7: Afirewas reported from themangrovesalong Palm Beach Road in Nerul. Thefirecharred around 10mangrovetrees.

December 10:Fireburnt a fewmangrovetrees near the Vashi railway station.

December 11: A massivefirebroke in some dry grass on a plotadjacent to themangrovesat Nerul. It was doused before it reached the mangroves.

December 16: Anotherfirebroke out on the same plot (of December 11). It was also doused before it reached themangroves.

December 20: Over a dozenmangrovetrees were charred in afirethat broke out in themangrovealong the Ulwe creek.

First Published: Jan 10, 2019 00:48 IST