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Activists raise an alarm to save Gorai mangrovesRanjeet JadhavMar 15, 2017, 08:22 IST
Illegal dumping of debris being carried out near the Gorai mangrove patch
Once again Mumbai's mangrove forests are facing threat of destruction with illegal dumping of debris being carried out near the patch of trees at Gorai. The Plant and Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) has alleged that a road has also been constructed inside the patch, to make way for the dumpers.
Acting on information regarding the illegal activity, founder and head of the NGO Sunish Subramanian Kanju visited the spot and was shocked to see that dumping activities were being carried out in broad daylight. He has also taken a couple of pictures of the same and given them to the authorities concerned.
A watchtower is also being constructed inside the patch of mangroves
Threat to life
"When I visited the spot with a couple of other members of the NGO, we found that almost an acre of the trees have been destroyed. Not only this, the land has been filled with debris," said Kanju. He further said that an official complaint has been made to the Mangroves Cell and the Collector's office about the same, mentioning that the illegal activities were not only destroying the flora and fauna of the region, but were also a threat to marine life. He has even submitted the photographs and a Google map with the location marked, so that the spot can be easily located. "If this continues, then we would soon lose the ecologically rich and sensitive mangrove forests that act as a protective barrier during flash floods," he added.
During their visit to the spot, the green activists also found that a gate using tin sheets was being installed along the stretch of mangroves so that the activities are not visible from outside. They even alleged that a watchtower was being constructed to keep an eye on the people, who would try to enter the site and click pictures.
When contacted, Chief Conservator of Forest N Vasudevan from the Mangroves Cell said, "We have received the complaint. I have asked the concerned official to look into the matter and check whether the land where dumping is taking place comes under our jurisdiction. If so, then we will take action as per the law."
A gate using tin sheets is being installed along the stretch
It should be noted that as per the orders of the High Court, mangroves have been notified as 'Protected Forests' and any activity in the area that harms the trees and marine biodiversity, is prohibited under Section 33 of the Indian Forest Ordinance 1927. "Violation of this order will attract imprisonment of two years\fine or both as per the ordinance," Kanju said.Destruction over the years
- On May 29, 2014, mid-day had done a story (How 1 acre of mangroves vanished in nine years) about how illegal dumping of construction debris and the gradual growth of slums led to the death of mangroves spread over an acre in Malad (West).
- On April 13, 2016, mid-day had done a story (Mumbai: NCP leader's school gobbles up open space, and claims it is protecting it), in which it was mentioned that locals alleged that a school had destroyed half-an-acre of trees next to the Versova mangroves, while NCP leader Narendra Verma claimed that he was 'saving the plot' from encroachments.
- On May 6, 2016 mid-day had done a story (Mumbai: Mangroves made way for parking space, say angry locals) on how strong protest by angry locals of Dahisar (East) drove out private tourist bus operators, who parked their vehicles in the region and had also hacked a chunk of the mangrove forest.