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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Mangroves dry up in Mumbai: Suburban collector asked to probe, take action

Sand bags kept by miscreants at Carter Road, Bandra stop tides, kill mangroves; officials promise action

mumbai Updated: Jan 13, 2019 10:14 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Dried up mangroves at Carter Road, Bandra in Mumbai on Saturday.
Dried up mangroves at Carter Road, Bandra in Mumbai on Saturday. (PRATIK CHORGE/HT PHOTO)

The coastal authority has pulled up the Mumbai suburban district administration for failure to protect mangroves along Carter Road, Bandra. Following complaints from residents, the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) issued a notice to the Mumbai suburban collector earlier this week asking him to investigate the matter and submit an action taken report to the coastal authority at the earliest.

The district administration said action would be taken at the earliest.

Local residents have complained that mangroves across half-an-acre opposite the office of the additional commissioner of police (west) have been killed after sandbags placed by unidentified people were used to block tides from entering the vegetation .

“Almost 35 to 40 bags of sand have been strategically kept abutting mangrove trees to stop high tide water ingress. Mangrove trees are slowly getting uprooted and the area has become flat. Satellite images compared from 2017 and 2019 show the difference in green cover,” said Farooque Dhala, activist and Mahim resident who filed repeated complaints since October.

Taking cognisance of the complaints, the MCZMA issued a notice to the Mumbai suburban collector. HT has a copy of the notice.

“Since this portion falls under the jurisdiction of the collector, his department needs to carry out an enquiry. We will also ask the state mangrove cell to investigate the issue independently,” said a senior official from MCZMA. “Following the Bombay high court (HC) order from September 17, cases related to mangrove destruction have to be investigated and panchnamas (reports) need to be filed within three days. However, this case has been going on for over four months.”

Commenting on the notice, Satynarayan Bajaj, deputy collector, Mumbai suburban, said, “We have asked circle officers to find out the source of the bags and will take help from the mangrove cell to ascertain the loss of mangroves.”

“Some portion of this mangrove patch is reserved forest, we will check whether any violation has happened there over the weekend,” said Prashant Deshmukh, range forest officer (west), state mangrove cell.

Residents confirmed that mangroves along Carter Road were dying. “We had noticed the reduction in green cover but we thought it was a natural phenomenon. However, loss of any mangrove tree is a violation and corrective action needs to be taken,” said Darryl D’Monte, president of the Bandra West Residents Association.

While government agencies have not been able to identify the culprits who placed the sandbags, Dhala said this could be an attempt by slumlords to set up illegal shanties in this zone by slowly removing mangrove trees.

First Published: Jan 13, 2019 00:45 IST