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Mangroves flattened at creek in Mumbai for parking space

A one-kilometre patch of mangroves behind Nalanda Law College along the Gorai creek in Borvili (West) has been flattened into a parking space

mumbai Updated: Aug 11, 2018 01:22 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Cars parked at a patch in Gorai where mangroves existed.(HT photo)

In yet another grim reminder of environmental destruction in the western suburbs, a one-kilometre patch of mangroves behind Nalanda Law College along the Gorai creek in Borvili (West) has been flattened into a parking space, according to satellite images taken between 2009 and 2018.

A local resident, who filed complaints with the district administration and state mangrove cell, said vehicles were being parked on land cleared of mangroves. When HT visited the site, debris was found near mangroves and vehicles parked haphazardly.

Satellite images from 2009 and 2018 show the systematic damage to mangroves. “Several residents living on either side of Nalanda College are responsible for dumping debris and flattening this mangrove patch for a parking area. A temple, fewer than 50 metres from mangroves, has also been built,” the complainant said.

Members of the New Link Road Residents’ Forum also filed a fresh complaint about the case on Friday. Meanwhile, the trustee of Nalanda Law College said he had informed the BMC about the violation. “We had carried out a mangrove plantation drive last monsoon, but owing to the parking of these vehicles, none of the saplings survived. The area is being slowly encroached upon through debris,” said Abraham Awale from Shahu Shikshan Sanstha, the trust which runs the college.

In 2005, the Bombay high court banned the destruction of mangroves and construction within 50 metres. Such violations are an offence under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, and have been afforded protection under category I of the Coastal Zone Regulation 1991.

The state mangrove cell confirmed that there was a violation at the Gorai creek. “An investigation undertaken by us a month ago revealed that the area was a private forest and falls under the district administration’s jurisdiction. But mangrove trees have been destroyed through debris and vehicle parking. We issued a detailed letter to the district administration to take action against violators,” said Prashant Deshmukh, range forest officer (west), state mangrove cell. “We had interrogated the land owner and deputed a guard to the site.”

“We will survey the area again. The land owner will be arrested, if even a single mangrove tree is lost,” said Deshmukh. Over the past four years, HT has reported nine cases of mangrove patches being converted into parking lots at Dahisar and Borivli.

“We will have a look at the mangrove cell report in the Gorai case. If there is any violation, we will approach the Borivli magistrate. We are developing a report for all such sites and will be presenting it to the court, Mumbai police, and further restoration will be taken up,” said Babasaheb Pardhe, sub-divisional officer, Mumbai suburban.

First Published: Aug 11, 2018 01:22 IST