mid-day editorial: Smoke out those burning our mangroves
For over a year, Versova residents had been shouting that the local land mafia has been systematically destroying mangroves by burning old tyres, so that the greens are burnt. The land is then used to build huts in the area.
This paper has consistently reported about mangrove patches being sacrificed to construct hutments in the western suburbs. Yet another report in this paper highlights how in Versova's mangrove patch on Yari Road, 15 to 20 hutments have already come up.
Authorities should have paid heed to the residents' complaints much earlier. When locals raise a hue and cry about a problem, the elected representatives need to lend an ear. They can then decide whether there is merit in the complaint, but they need to first acknowledge that there is a problem and have the willingness to look at it.
Locals have figured out the modus operandi – the culprits first set fire to some tyres, using this as a decoy while they burn the trees as well. Once the mangroves are cleared, 90 per cent of their mission is accomplished. The land is then clear for slums to be built on it.
The locals, who are familiar with the terrain and have a stake in the place, are the real foot soldiers in the battle to protect the city and its green spaces. They are the first at the frontline, the eyes and ears on the ground. They are useful in raising an alarm about a deteriorating or worrisome situation. It is little use telling people to be vigilant if their concerns are brushed off.
Those in charge have to take note and keep their eyes peeled for the burning tyres deception. It should become a warning sign of the real damage that taking place in the mangroves. It is impossible to undo the damage that has been done, but acting now can prevent further carnage.