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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Colaba mangroves destroyed? Officials to check on Thursday

mumbai Updated: Dec 03, 2019 00:57 IST
Hindustantimes
         

The Mumbai city collector has ordered a site inspection of Sagarmatha Club, owned by the Indian Army, to probe allegations that the Army has been illegally reclaiming mangrove forests in Colaba. The inspection will be done on December 5 by the mangrove cell of the Maharashtra forest department, the city police and the collector.

“Even as previous violations have been confirmed, we need representatives from different state bodies to confirm the repeated allegations of environmental destruction by the Indian Army at this club,” said Shivaji Jondhale, collector. “This site visit is crucial since all representatives will be present, and we will have a clear picture regarding the scale of violations.”

The Army confirmed the upcoming site visit. “We are aware of the joint site visit by different government departments. Officials from each department had visited the club individually, and we had explained our stand to them. If only they would have carried out such a visit when half the club premise was flooded, they would have realised why flood protection measures were implemented,” said an Army official. HT had reported on the allegations on November 25. Previously, the Army had said that debris had been dumped to “protect defence land from flooding”. It had also maintained that no mangroves had been destroyed and no illegal construction had been carried out.

However, Jondhale had said the club may have violated the Bombay high court’s (HC) orders pertaining to mangrove destruction by carrying out land reclamation less than 50 metres from mangroves several times this year. On November 19, environment group Conservation Action Trust (CAT) had filed a complaint alleging debris and earth from Metro construction sites had been dumped by the Army to reclaim land near Sagarmatha Club.

An official from the Indian Army, requesting anonymity, confirmed that boulders from Metro construction sites had been placed in the club for flood control. A site visit by HT to the 1.5-acre club revealed that some of these boulders had been dumped less than 50m from mangroves. The mangrove cell reiterated that as per their previous inspections, no mangrove trees were destroyed at the site. However, the mangrove cell and Mumbai Police said they would follow directions from the city collector.