Malad mangroves turn parking lot for over 300 taxis
The area is located opposite a hotel and next to the Hiradevi temple close to Erangal village near Madh island.Updated: Sep 11, 2019 03:22 IST
A 20-acre area abutting mangrove forests in Malad has been converted into a parking lot for more than 300 taxis.
The area is located opposite a hotel and next to the Hiradevi temple close to Erangal village near Madh island.
Environmentalists, who have alerted authorities about the encroachment, said that debris, mud and garbage have been dumped in the mangroves. The United Association for Social, Educational and Public Welfare Trust, a citizens’ group, has obtained satellite images to show how the parking space and debris dumping is less than 50m from mangroves, eating further into the forest.
Reacting to the complaint, the district administration said revenue officials have been directed to visit the area and submit a report at the earliest.
“During this monsoon, truckloads of debris have been dumped illegally on mangroves. The area has been flattened and levelled by the land mafia, who are led by a local to create an illegal parking lot for white taxis. Most of these taxis do not have number plates or are damaged,” alleged Reji Abraham, activist and president of the trust. “Repeated complaints have not been addressed by the local authorities or the state mangroves committee so far.”
Abraham also said other areas in the nearby vicinity were also being reclaimed through garbage dumping. “Garbage, mud and debris collected from nearby beach clean-ups are being dumped on mangroves along several stretches on the Lagoon Road to make way for more illegal constructions. The entire area has been neglected by the authorities concerned,” he said.
Another local resident, requesting anonymity, said, “A local goon from one of the villages in Madh has taken up contracts from cab companies to allow these vehicles to be parked while other four other areas are being reclaimed to setup illegal hutments.”
The mangrove forest is private and falls under the jurisdiction of the district administration and destruction of such forests have been banned by the Bombay high court (HC).
“We have received satellite images of the taxis at the site, which indicate a clear violation as they seem to be less than 50m from mangroves. No permissions have been taken from this office. Revenue officials have been directed to visit the area and submit a report at the earliest,” said Satyanarayan Bajaj, Mumbai suburban deputy collector.
According to the district administration, 15 cases of mangrove areas being turned into parking lots have been recorded. “All previous cases have been closed with hefty fines levied on violators,” said Bajaj.
Neenu Somraj, member secretary of the mangrove committee, said, “Sometimes, these vehicles are parked well beyond 50m, which do not qualify as violations. We will assess the complaint during our next meeting.”
WHAT BOMBAY HIGH COURT SAID
Destruction of mangrove forests across Maharashtra and construction within 50m of mangrove areas is illegal as per the Bombay high court (HC). In September, the HC bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice Riyaz Chagla passed its final order, which read: “Destruction of mangroves offended the fundamental rights of the citizens and hence it was a mandatory duty of the state and its agencies and instrumentalities to protect and preserve the mangroves.”