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Actor Randeep Hooda tweets about mangrove burning in Mumbai

Based on his tweet, which was circulated widely on social media, officials from the state mangrove cell surveyed the site in Versova

mumbai Updated: Jan 18, 2018 09:01 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Randeep Hooda,mangroves
The fire as seen by the residents from a nearby building. (HT Photo )

Actor Randeep Hooda, on Tuesday evening, took to Twitter to highlight a case of alleged mangrove burning near Central Institute of Fisheries Education at Versova.

He tweeted: “In the protected mangrove forest area in Yari Road, Versova, the squatters, who have encroached, are now systematically burning the trees down to claim more land.” He added that the collector, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chief and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray had visited these areas but hardly had any effect. “..it’s business as usual. Who’s in charge?”

Based on his tweet, which was circulated widely on social media, officials from the state mangrove cell surveyed the site and filed a punchnama on Wednesday morning.

“Our investigation revealed that no mangrove trees were burnt and the area is not a reserved mangrove forest. It is a private land. Four subabul trees caught fire after someone burnt garbage at the site,” said Prashant Deshmukh, range forest officer, western region, Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit. “The incident took place 145 metres away from the mangrove patch, along the [Versova] creek.”

Revenue officials said they too sent a round-officer to inspect the site. “We are getting several complaints regarding fires at mangrove patches. Most of them are false, as they are away from these coastal trees. However, even subabul trees being burnt is a concern. We will raise the issue with BMC,” said Subhash Kakade, tehsildar, Andheri.

Residents said increased incidents of mangrove burning were being reported from various parts of Andheri and the reclaimed land was being used by illegal housing.

“Protected mangrove areas in Versova, Oshiwara, and various other parts of Andheri are becoming a hotbed for illegal activities. Shanties built on this land are provided electricity and television services. We have raised the issue with the state. Immediate action is needed to control the problem,” said Suneet Gandhi, a resident of Yari Road.

HT had reported on December 27 and January 3 that residents had been filming encroachers systematically taking over the mangrove forest adjacent to Bhagat Singh slums at Oshiwara, Andheri (West), by burning trees and dumping debris on the charred vegetation.

The existing law

Destruction of mangroves is illegal under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Bombay Environment Action Group, the Bombay High Court banned destruction of mangrove forests across the state and construction within 50m of mangrove areas in 2005.

First Published: Jan 18, 2018 09:01 IST