Unidentified persons booked for mangroves destruction, illegal shrimp farming in Kharghar

Published on Jan 18, 2022 08:20 PM IST

Taking cognisance of the Hindustan Times report published on January 15, the Revenue officials booked unidentified persons for destruction of mangroves and illegal shrimp (prawns) farming ponds in the creek area in Kharghar

Site of mangroves destruction at Sector 25 in Kharghar. Revenue officials registered a case under the Environment Protection Act against unidentified persons. (HT PHOTO)
Site of mangroves destruction at Sector 25 in Kharghar. Revenue officials registered a case under the Environment Protection Act against unidentified persons. (HT PHOTO)
ByG. Mohiuddin Jeddy, Navi Mumbai

Taking cognisance of the Hindustan Times report published on January 15, the Revenue officials registered a case under the Environment Protection Act against unidentified persons for the destruction of mangroves and illegal shrimp (prawns) farming ponds in the creek area in Kharghar.

The FIR filed by Revenue Circle Officer, Pandurang Kachre at the Kharghar police station, mentions that after HT report, a team of revenue and forest officials conducted an on-the-spot check of the site confirming the destruction of mangroves.

A cursory check of Google images indicated that the mangroves might have been destroyed during 2005-09. But the prawns’ culture ponds have been freshly noticed, the FIR said, and registered a case under Section 15 of the Maharashtra Environment Protection Act, 1986. The section stipulates a five-year jail term for the violators, if convicted.

HT, in its report titled “CM Thackeray asks forest secretary to look into complaint against mangrove destruction” had drawn attention to the destruction of mangroves in Kharghar.

NatConnect Foundation and Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan have, earlier, complained to the Chief Minister against the destruction of mangroves and the illegal prawn culture ponds, and the CMO asked the Forest Department to investigate. Simultaneously, Raigad District Collector, Dr Mahendra Kalyankar, asked the SDO (sub-divisional officer) to look into the issue.

Appreciating the prompt action as a good start, NatConnect Foundation director, BN Kumar, said, “The police should take the case to its logical conclusion and trace the culprits. The vehicles used for levelling the ground could provide vital clues. The investigation must also get into the details of the mangrove destruction and the officials concerned.”

Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, pointed out that the creek and the mangrove fall under CRZ-1 and that no one has any business to fiddle with the free flow of tidal water. The organised, planned prawn and crab culture ponds cutting into mangroves is an act of certain vested interests and not ordinary fishing community people, he said, and called going to the root cause of this menace.

Mangroves not only serve as a breeding ground for a variety of fish and crabs, but are also useful as carbon sinks, rainwater forests and host a whole lot of birds, insects and animals. Recently, golden jackals were noticed in Kharghar.

Kharghar activist, Naresh Chandra Singh, said the chopping of mangroves definitely is a major threat to the housing colonies. “The destruction at Sectors 17 and 25 is a recent and ongoing occurrence. The National Wetland Inventory Assessment (NWIA) clearly shows that the miscreants have drained out water from these areas and converted them into fish ponds, recently.”

Sandipan Shinde, senior police inspector of Kharghar police station, said, “We have registered the case against unnamed persons. We have begun investigations in the matter and will take further action accordingly.”

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