Authorities pass buck as destruction of mangroves continues in Mumbai
Oshiwara residents say officials have done nothing despite promising stringent action against encroachersUpdated: Jan 02, 2018 23:28 IST
More than 10% of the 40-acre mangrove patch, adjacent to Bhagat Singh slums at Oshiwara, Andheri (West), has been lost owing to regular incidents of mangrove burning, said the local residents.
After complaints were filed on December 26, officials from the collector’s office and state mangrove cell told residents they had taken cognisance of their complaints. However, residents said no action has been taken so far to stop the destruction.
“Rampant destruction of mangroves continues at the site with increased incidents of mangrove burning and debris dumping reported daily since complaints were filed,” said Dhaval Shah from Lokhandwala Oshiwara Citizens Association (LOCA), who filed the original complaint. “All government offices that promised action against offenders have failed and are passing the buck.”
HT had reported on December 27 that residents of Oshiwara had been filming encroachers taking over the mangrove forest by burning trees and dumping debris on the charred vegetation. HT correspondent, who visited the spot found that half the mangrove patch had been covered in construction debris.
Officials from the revenue department passed the buck to the mangrove cell claiming that once a report was filed by the latter, a first information report (FIR) will be filed.
“We had written to top officials in the state mangrove cell to submit a report regarding the violation and the extent of damage to the mangroves. However, we have not received any response yet. We cannot act until the cell provides the information as per protocol,” said Subhash Kakade, tehsildar, Andheri.
State mangrove cell officials confirmed that there was a violation at the site and mangroves had been destroyed.
“Two of our officers had been deployed on Tuesday to survey the area. However, owing to caste-related protests in the city they were unable to go. We can still confirm that mangroves have been destroyed but a letter will be sent to the revenue officer once a detailed survey is done and report filed,” said Makarand Ghodke, assistant conservator of forest, state mangrove cell, adding that the report will be sent by Thursday.
Local MLA Bharati Lavekar told HT she was trying to get the area fenced.
“Since permissions are required from the Bombay High Court for fencing the mangrove patch, it will take time. However, local police is monitoring the problem,” she said.