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Encroachments destroy 80-acre mangrove patch in Wadala: Report

Forest department confirms violations, says they haven’t got charge of MMRDA land

mumbai Updated: May 09, 2019 01:40 IST
Encroachments,mangrove patch,Wadala
Debris dumped at a site located 500 metres from Bhakti Park monorail station in Wadala.(HT)

Five months after the Bombay high court (HC) directed state agencies to hand over mangrove areas to the forest department, officials found encroachments are destroying an 80-acre wetland and mangrove patch in Wadala that is yet to be handed over to the forest department.

The inspection team’s report will be presented before the wetland and mangroves committee headed by the Konkan divisional commissioner on May 15.

On May 4, a team of forest department officials inspected a site located 500 metres from Bhakti Park monorail station, which comes under the jurisdiction of Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA).

The site inspection was carried out after environment group Vanashakti filed four complaints in past three months.

According to the forest department’s report, which HT has a copy of, mounds of debris and mud have been dumped on mangrove vegetation and on all sides of a water body across a 1.5km-stretch, from the monorail station to an old check post on Bombay Port Trust Road.

Encroachers have cut tidal water inflow in the wetland, killing mangroves.

“A road has been built through debris dumping from the highway and slum encroachments are facilitating landfilling on mangrove areas during the night,” said a forest official who was part of the inspection team.

Chief operating officer of Mumbai Monorail at MMRDA, DLN Murthy refused to comment on the matter.

HT had first reported the violation after Vanashakti filed its first complaint in February. In January, the HC had directed state agencies like MMRDA to hand over mangrove areas to the forest department.

However, the handover is still underway. “These agencies are purposely delaying or refusing to hand over mangrove areas to the forest department and using it as construction debris dump yards,” alleged Stalin D, director of Vanashakti.

“While the land does not fall under our jurisdiction, violations of HC orders have been observed,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest (mangrove cell).

“The case will be presented before the wetland and mangroves committee headed by the Konkan divisional commissioner on May 15 and the mangrove cell will be informing the nodal officer, MMRDA to take action and restore the area.”

First Published: May 09, 2019 01:40 IST