1,767 encroachments at 7 mangrove spots in Mumbai demolished
The state mangrove cell demolished 1,767 structures, including commercial and residential structures, crematoriums, garages, parking areas and temples, as part of its two-month drive to clear encroachments in the wetlands across the city.
Since April, the cell carried out demolitions in mangroves in Ghatkopar, Malad-Malwani, Cheetah camp in Trombay, Kandivli, Chikoowadi-Shankarwadi in Borivli, Mahim and Vikhroli. The authorities arrested 17 people, seized 56 vehicles parked illegally, and collected ₹5.6 lakh in fines. The encroachers had built bunds to cut off the flow of tide water to the mangroves, so the trees die. The authorities have dug up trenches to replenish the flow of water.
“This has been one of the most effective demolition drives in Mumbai in the past few years. Of the nine locations where encroachments were identified, seven have been cleared of them. The encroachment at Wadala will be cleared soon, while the one at Colaba will be razed after the monsoon,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell. “We will not rest until the last unauthorised structure is removed from the mangroves.”
Mangrove cell officials said the cleared areas are being fenced. “The trenches have been built in such a manner that it will be impossible to construct loose structures on them. Apart from regular patrolling, we have also begun fencing mangroves in Trombay,” said Makarand Ghodke, assistant conservator of forest, state mangrove cell, who was assisted by 15 forest officers, Mumbai police and forest guards in all seven demolition drives.
“The arrested men are part of the land mafia. They help them get voter ID cards and supplies to construct homes. They are in judicial custody. The charge sheet is being filed,” said Ghodke.
HT has been reporting on mangrove and wetland destruction in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). The state is yet to convict any violator in any of the cases.
In 2005, acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Bombay Environment Action Group, the Bombay high court banned destruction of mangroves across the state and construction within 50m of mangroves.
Such violations are an offence under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, and have been given protection under category I of the CRZ (Coastal Zone Regulation 1991).