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Officials admit to destruction of mangroves in Mumbai, state to file cases

HT had reported on March 7 that 22 hectares of mangroves were destroyed at three sites in the western suburbs.

mumbai Updated: Mar 09, 2018 00:39 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
The state government directed the mangrove cell to give its reaction to the newspaper report. (HT File)

Reacting to an HT report, the Maharashtra revenue department will file a case about the destruction of mangrove forests in Charkop, Kandivli.

HT had reported on March 7 that 22 hectares of mangroves were destroyed at three sites in the western suburbs. Reji Abraham, member of the mangrove destruction redressal committee which was formed on the orders of the Bombay high court had brought the incidents to the committee’s notice.

Babasaheb Pardhe, sub-divisional officer (SDO), Mumbai suburban, said, while a first-information-report (FIR) had been filed in the mangrove destruction case near Indian Navy Station (INS) Hamla, Marve in November 2017, an FIR was filed in the Evershine Nagar case.

“We can confirm mangrove destruction at all three locations highlighted by HT in its report,” said Pardhe.

“Since these areas belong to the revenue department, investigation is underway at all these locations. At INS Hamla and Evershine Nagar, the police needs to file a charge sheet and arrest offenders. However, near Charkop village, we cannot confirm the exact area of destruction, but our investigation is underway, and an FIR will be filed soon.”

Pardhe said that the district administration used land revenue maps, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) 1991 development plan, and on-ground survey during its investigation.

Meanwhile, the state government directed the mangrove cell to give its reaction to the newspaper report.

An official from the state government, who is following the case, said, “The alleged mangrove destruction cases were discussed at the highest level of the state government. In such a situation, clarifications from the responsible departments are always called for.”

The state mangrove cell in a letter to the forest secretary, public relations wing of the forest department, and HT, said that allegations were baseless and scientifically incorrect.

N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell said, the maximum damage was witnessed at INS Hamla, Marve, which amounted to 3 hectares and the remaining two locations, did not lose any mangrove cover, and; on the contrary, fresh plantations had increased the cover. The letter attached satellite images highlighting areas, where fresh plantations were done.

“These are unsubstantiated opinions of an individual, who happens to be a member of that committee. The committee at no point of time arrived at such a conclusion. There is no large-scale mangrove cover destruction at any of these sites. Small scale destructions need to be investigated by the district administration as the land is under their jurisdiction,” said Vasudevan.

“Only in the INS Hamla area, can one observe a likely reduction in the mangrove cover. More detailed analysis is required to determine the exact loss of mangrove cover here, but prima facie the loss appears to be around 3 hectares.”

However, the complainant stood by his allegations and said there was no action taken by the cell to prosecute offenders.

“The directions of the Bombay HC are being repeatedly violated and no one to be held accountable. There will be deterrence if there are arrests and convictions,” said Abraham.

First Published: Mar 09, 2018 00:39 IST