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Wanted: a green cover

Mangroves in Malad and a car shed in Charkop. That, in a nutshell, is what this election is all about in these two constituencies, reports Shashank Rao.

mumbai Updated: Oct 08, 2009 02:03 IST
Shashank Rao

Mangroves in Malad and a car shed in Charkop. That, in a nutshell, is what this election is all about in these two constituencies.

Malad is growing into a hub of shopping malls and multinational corporations but mangroves are getting depleted and open spaces are shrinking. Charkop, on the other hand, is witnessing face-off between slumdwellers and building residents over a car shed being built for Phase 2 of the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd Metro.

In Malad, residents say, builders are creating an environmental disaster.

Sanjeev Sawant (50), a Malwani resident, said: “Every day, several trucks dump debris onto the mangroves and marsh, turning it into a landfill. A couple of years ago over 30 acres of mangroves were intact. But they are greatly depleted now.”

The law does not allow any encroachment or construction within 50 m of the high-tide line. The mangroves start behind Inorbit mall or Malad Khaadi (creek) and stretch up to Malwani across 100 acres. There are several encroachments by slumdwellers here.

In February, more than 800 illegal hutments were removed at Malwani. “Preserving open spaces is my priority,” said Dolphy D’Souza (52), an independent candidate.

According to the civic Human Development Report (2009), 64 per cent of Malad’s population lives in slums.

Charkop, too, is suffering at the hands of the land mafia, which blatantly facilitates the building of slums. Builders have illegally constructed walls along the landfill that the marsh is turning into.

The second Metro line (Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd), the city’s longest, was opposed by slum-dwellers because the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority planned to construct a depot-cum-car shed in Charkop.

Slumdwellers argue that the eight hectares of the 20-hectare plot houses nearly 14,000 families and 2,000 shops. All these would have to be moved.

But residents of surrounding buildings support the car shed because it will eradicate slums. Kunal Meshram (46), Charkop resident and project manager with an architectural firm, said: “Local goons back the slum-dwellers. But the city badly needs public transport like the Metro rail.”