Maharashtra mangroves cell officials clear 180 illegal structures

Nanku Yadav, 56, a resident of the area, has been arrested for encroaching forest land.

mumbai Updated: Apr 19, 2018 11:05 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
State mangrove officials demolished 180 illegal structures at Charkop on Wednesday.(HT photo)

A three-hectare stretch of mangrove forest at Sai Dham Nagar, opposite the Charkop bus depot in Kandivli, was cleared of encroachments on Wednesday. The state mangrove cell arrested one person who was allegedly involved in erecting illegal structures in areas cleared of mangroves.

Officials from the mangrove cell said they arrested Nanku Yadav, 56, a resident of the area, for encroaching forest land.

“After the entire demolition was over, the accused began hurling abuses and tried to create a ruckus at the site. Based on previous records, Yadav is the land mafia leader of the area responsible for erecting several structures, as well as providing funds for such encroachments over the past five years,” said Makarand Ghodke, assistant conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.

A total of 180 illegal structures including shops, houses, and shanties were removed. In a first, two illegal shrines were also demolished at the mangrove patch located near the Gorai creek.

Ghodke, who led the drive along with 14 mangrove cell officers, seven security personnel and 25 policemen, said that constructing shrines on land cleared of forests was a persistent issue for the cell. “This is the first time we have taken a strong stand against this issue, and hopefully more deterrence will prevail.”

In July last year, HT had reported that a 44-year-old woman, hailing from Kandivli and who is an activist and mangrove cell informant, alleged that she was raped and assaulted for reporting the mangrove destruction activities to the local police and state mangrove cell. She is a resident of the same area where the demolition took place on Wednesday.

The police had, at the time, filed a first information report (FIR) in the matter and arrested one accused, while two others were absconding.

“After a lot of hue and cry, the cell finally demolished those structures that I had been fighting to remove for the past two years. The shanties that have been destroyed belong to those responsible for nefarious activities in this area, and at least some justice has been served,” she said.

Senior officials from the mangrove cell said fences will be erected at areas where encroachment-removal drives are being conducted.

“We have decided to free large-scale encroachments from mangrove areas before May end, and this process is underway. Another eight locations have been identified by us. However, we cannot reveal the exact areas, as it will allow violators to take precautionary steps to protect their structures,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.

First Published: Apr 19, 2018 11:05 IST