Airoli mangroves exposed to debris dumping, warn activists
Environmental activists have accused the Forest department of negligence in curbing the menace of debris dumping in the mangrove belt spread over sector 19 and 20 of Airoli. Multiple complaints made to both the forest department and the NMMC by activists have failed to spur any action
Environmental activists have accused the Forest department of negligence in curbing the menace of debris dumping in the mangrove belt spread over sector 19 and 20 of Airoli. Multiple complaints made to both the forest department as well as the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) by activists have failed to spur any action.
“Neither of the authorities are at least considering getting the broken gate fixed. The main gate leading to the mangrove serves no purpose; it is broken, left ajar, it is filled with wild creepers and rusted beyond repair. The bare minimum, which could be done to preserve the mangroves, is to get a new gate installed with a better locking system,” said a resident who wished to be unnamed.
The NMMC is fencing the boundaries of the mangroves, but residents say it is hardly any deterrent. “Just a quick glance of the entire area will present the real picture. Just like the broken gate of the forest department, even the recently fixed fences are tampered to suit the needs of those dumping debris. The NMMC has installed independent gates along the fencing, but these too are broken and no amount of complaints is yielding any action,” said sector 20 resident and activist Gajanan Raut.
The activist has even tweeted a picture of the badly damaged gate of the forest department left ajar. The NMMC executive engineer acknowledged that the gates along the fencing are damaged. “Following the complaints raised, we conducted an inspection of the fencing work. Around three gates were found to have been damaged. We have decided to permanently lock these gates and the work will be undertaken in the next few days,” he said.
The Forest department, however, maintained that regardless of the open gates, no debris dumping occurs within the mangrove belt as the road leading from the gate is not accessible to four wheelers. “The road is very narrow and can be accessed only by walking or riding two wheelers. There is no debris dumping happening internally. The gate broke down long ago and the road leading to the mangroves is only frequented by local fishermen,” said the Range Forest officer, Prashant Bhadure.
Residents insisted that there are extensive patches in the area filled with construction waste. Forest department in response has said it will increase patrolling in the area.