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Charkop mangroves are being destroyed by encroachers: activists

Around 138 acres of mangroves at Charkop, Kandivli (West), adjoining the Manori Creek, are under threat. Nikhil M Ghanekar reports.

mumbai Updated: Feb 29, 2012 01:38 IST
Nikhil M Ghanekar
Nikhil M Ghanekar
Hindustan Times

Around 138 acres of mangroves at Charkop, Kandivli (West), adjoining the Manori Creek, are under threat.

For the past two months, reclamation, encroachments and bonfires near sector 8 of Charkop village are slowly eating into the rich reserve of mangroves.

“Incidents of unidentified men starting fires near the mangroves have increased. Encroachments usually come up late in the night or on a holiday when it is difficult to get hold of the offender,” said Mili Shetty, a resident of Sai Siddhi building whose home faces the mangroves. “Last Friday, I saw the mangroves on fire and informed the fire brigade.”

Till date, illegal encroachments and reclamation have destroyed more than two acres of the dense vegetation.

Citizen activists said angling, construction of bund walls that prevents creek water from entering the mangroves and land reclamation is posing a danger to the ecosystem that is host to migratory birds such as flamingos, egrets and storks.

In fact, on February 21, the Charkop police filed a first information report (FIR) against Karthik Shetty, a garage owner in the area.

According to the police, Shetty had built an eatery stall and erected a shed made of asbestos sheets 50 metres from the mangroves. This was in violation of norms under the Coastal Regulation Zone I (CRZ).

The CRZ-I rule bans any development within 100 metres of ecologically sensitive areas such as mangroves, marine parks, and national parks.

“During our investigation, we found that Shetty had damaged mangroves and hence we booked him under Environment Protection Act, 1986. He is yet to be arrested,” said Vasant Devarkar, senior inspector, Charkop police station.

Shetty was unavailable for comment.

Kedar Pawar, circle officer, Tehsildar office at Borivli, said, “When we inspected the area near Charkop village, we found that Shetty had destroyed mangroves by constructing illegal structures.”

Environmentalists said the forest department and Tehsildar office needed to maintain a strict vigil in the area. “It was in this area that poachers had killed three flamingos last year,” said Rishi Agarwal, an environmentalist.

First Published: Feb 29, 2012 01:37 IST