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Maharashtra forest department pulls down hotel being built on wetland in Thane

Action taken at Dive-Anjur on directions issued by a high court-appointed committee

mumbai Updated: Mar 17, 2018 13:35 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra forest department,Thane wetlands,save mangroves
The under-construction hotel off Thane-Bhiwandi Road was razed on Thursday.

The state forest department cleared encroachments on a one-acre wetland patch at Dive-Anjur off Thane-Bhiwandi Road on Thursday.

Following directions from the Bombay high court (HC) constituted wetland grievance committee, the Thane territorial forest department razed an under-construction hotel being built at the site using excavator machines.

The violation was first highlighted by the state mangrove cell in the Bombay HC in 2014. N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell, had inspected eight wetland sites (one of them was Dive-Anjur) and confirmed the destruction.

His report said unidentified violators had cut off the flow of tidal water to the wetlands.

“After discussions during our meeting, we directed the Thane forest department to take action at the site. Recently, the land was handed over to the forest department and 10 days back we issued directions. The deputy conservator of forest (DCF), Thane forest range took action at the site,” said JR Gowda, member secretary, of the HC committee. “We will ensure the land gets restored.”

Jitendra Ramgaokar, DCF, Thane, said, “We removed a massive structure from the wetland, which is very close to the creek, where debris had also been dumped. Based on directions to us by the HC committee, we had issued a notice to the people concerned over the past week. After finding that details submitted by them were violating wetland rules, we carried out the demolition drive and the structure was removed.”

Environmentalists lauded the move by the forest department.

“We welcome this decision by the forest department and mangrove cell. This will send a message to violators that court orders cannot be subverted by political and mafia pressure. However, more sites remain and the big fish are still out there,” said Stalin D, director, NGO Vanashakti.

In another incident, the Thane forest department also cleared an encroachment from a protected forest land at Kalwa, along the Mumbai-Panvel Highway on Thursday.

“A company with 30 employees was engaged in developing ship parts, and had encroached on the forest land for 20 years. We arrested Ramesh Parashuram Sharma, the owner of the company. The encroachments will be removed over the next few days,” said Ramgaokar.

First Published: Mar 17, 2018 13:35 IST