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Man arrested for running illegal parking lot on mangroves in Mumbai; 48 vehicles seized

Officials from the mangrove protection unit also destroy 15 encroaching shanties in the city-wide post-monsoon drive on Wednesday

mumbai Updated: Nov 02, 2017 12:28 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai mangroves,Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit,illegal encroachments
The Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit seized vehicles on Wednesday. (HT)

The Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit (MMCU), under the state mangrove cell, began their citywide post-monsoon drive to demolish encroachments on Wednesday.

Between 10am and 4pm, officials destroyed 15 shanties and seized eight four-wheelers, 15 two-wheelers and 25 rickshaws from a three-hectare mangrove patch, which had been converted into a parking lot along Lagoon Road, Malwani, Malad (West).

The MMCU arrested Alam Suber Kareshi, 50, who was running the parking lot illegally. He will be presented before the Borivli magistrate court on Friday.

Mangroves are salt-tolerant plants, trees, shrubs or ground fern of tropical and subtropical intertidal regions of the world. Currently, Mumbai has 5,800 hectares (ha) of mangrove cover – 4,000 ha on government-owned land and 1,800 ha in private areas.

On October 10, HT had reported that encroachments on mangroves the size of nine Wankhede Stadiums would be cleared from November to May. The cell will raze shanties and illegal structures on a 13.5-hectare plot of mangroves in areas such as Malwani, Kannamwar Nagar in Vikhroli, Kamraj Nagar in Ghatkopar, Chitta Camp, Mankhurd, Charkop, Borivli, Gorai, Wadala and Cuffe Parade.

“This was the first-large scale encroachment removal drive from the city’s mangroves after the monsoon,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell. “After clearing the vehicles and structures, we will begin restoration of the plot from Thursday. We will dig channels to ensure water supply. Once the land is ready, we will begin planting saplings.”

Mangrove cell officials said citizens can claim their seized vehicles after paying a fine for parking them illegally. Those who own four-wheelers will be fined Rs25,000, auto rickshaws Rs10,000, and two-wheelers Rs 5,000.

“We confiscated the vehicles, but plan to return them as citizens were unaware that this was protected forest land. However, the accused running the parking lot illegally will be prosecuted under sections of the Indian Forest Act, 1926,” said Makarand Ghodke, assistant conservator of forest, MMCU.

He said CCTV cameras will be installed at the site soon and the construction of a compound wall to fence off the area will begin in December.

Areas with encroachments
  • Malwani: 3 hectares (carried out on Wednesday)
  • Kannamwar Nagar : 1 ha
  • Kamraj Nagar : 1 ha
  • Cheetah camp: 2 ha
  • Mankhurd: 0.5 ha
  • Charkop: 1 ha
  • Borivli and Gorai : 2 ha
  • • Wadala: 2ha
  • Cuffe Parade : 1 ha
  • TOTAL: 13.5 ha

(Source: State Mangrove Cell)

Why should you care?

* Mangroves are salt-tolerant plants, a common natural feature along the Mumbai coast. Apart from playing a role in stabilising coastlines, mangrove trees act as carbon sinks, capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing them in the vegetation. This process is called carbon sequestration, and helps control global warming by reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

* Mangrove ecosystem establishes and grows at the interface of soil and water bodies like sea, creeks, estuaries, bays and lagoons. They are commonly found in inter-tidal areas – area between the high tide and the low tide.

* In Maharashtra, mangroves cover almost 222 sq km of the coastline, covering 53 creeks and seashore.

* Close to 150 hectares of mangrove forests have already been sanctioned to be lost for various development projects in Mumbai, including the proposed Navi Mumbai International airport and the civic body’s Coastal Road Project.

First Published: Nov 02, 2017 12:28 IST