130 people booked for destroying mangroves by building shanties in Mumbai’s Charkop
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130 people booked for destroying mangroves by building shanties in Mumbai’s Charkop

The police will soon demolish structures.

mumbai Updated: Nov 22, 2017 23:59 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mnagroves,Mumbai,illegal structures
Shanties have come up within 50-metre of mangrove in Charkop.(HT)

As many as 130 people were booked under different cases for allegedly destroying mangroves and setting up shanties at ecologically-sensitive areas in Charkop, Kandivli (West), on Tuesday night.

The violations were identified by environmentalist Reji Abraham over the past few months during monthly meetings of the state government committee for protection and conservation of mangroves in Mumbai, constituted by the Bombay high court in October 2016.

The committee led by the Konkan commissioner directed the suburban collector, police personnel, mangrove cell and civic body officials to undertake a detailed survey of the area, which was conducted on November 17. The survey identified 130 people who had allegedly erected illegal shanties within a 50-metre radius of mangroves.

The destruction of mangroves within 50-metre of mangrove areas was banned by the Bombay HC in 2005, after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by the NGO Bombay Environment Action Group.

The Mumbai police said they had filed first information reports (FIRs) based on the Bombay HC order and violations under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. “The violations spread across Charkop and Charkop village. Depending upon the severity of the violations, arrests will be made,” said Mumbai police spokesperson Deepak Devraj, deputy commissioner of police (operations). The police will soon demolish illegal structures, he said.

HT had reported in May this year that more than 20 acres of mangrove forests have been destroyed through debris dumping at Charkop over the past seven years. Additionally, 3,000 shanties and private properties have been built illegally on both reserved forest and private mangrove land.

Activist Abraham identified the slum encroachments at the periphery of Charkop village, Kumbharkala wetlands in sector 2, Sai Dham Nagar and other violations at Sectors 8 and 9. “We had been highlighting this issue for a long time, and finally based on an aerial survey from buildings, these violations were identified. The land mafia has been taken to task that setup these structures,” said Abraham, founder and president, United Association for Social, Educational and Public Welfare Trust and member of the committee. “The main problem we had been facing was the authorities at the local level who were hand in glove with the mafia.”

Konkan commissioner Jagdish Patil told HT that the HC committee was taking help of all provisions of law to prevent destruction of mangroves and wetlands. “These violators had been removed from the spot earlier but they returned again. We were forced to book them and now stringent action will be taken with regard to any such cases,” he said.

Why should you care?

· Mangroves act as a buffer zone between land and sea, protecting the land from erosion

· Mangroves absorb the impact of cyclones

· They are a breeding ground for a variety of marine animals

· Mangroves also absorb carbon dioxide, making air cleaner to breathe

· 5,800 hectares (ha) of mangrove cover in Mumbai - 4,000 ha on government-owned land and 1,800 ha in private areas.

· Navi Mumbai and the eastern end of Thane creek have a total cover of 1,471 ha

· The western bank of Thane creek it is 1,500 ha.

First Published: Nov 22, 2017 23:59 IST