Mumbai: Is Mankhurd's green lung going to the huts?

Activist accuses forest department of not taking action against local mafia that is axing mangroves to build illegal hutments

Daney Prabhakar Ghumal, who is allegedly constructing illegal hutments on mangrove land near Shivneri Nagar in MankhurdHutments near Mankhurd

If green activists are to be believed, one of the city's few surviving mangrove spaces could be facing destruction at the hands of encroachers. According to activists, the mangroves near Shivneri Nagar in Markhurd are being axed by the local mafia to make way for illegal hutments that are being sold at steep prices.

Vishwas Menge, who lives in the vicinity, said that one Daney Prabhakar Ghumal with the help of other local goons had built over 300-400 huts after uprooting the mangroves at the site. "Only recently, they constructed 10 huts at Shivneri Nagar near Mandala, which is a few metres away from the Vashi creek," he said. "If the forest officials conduct an aerial survey of the area, they will realise the extent of damage that has been caused to the mangroves."

Hutments near Mankhurd

Menge claimed that he first registered a complaint with the forest department in 2012, but the authorities are least bothered to take action against the encroachers. "Every month a new hut is being built here," he alleged.

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He further said that he had registered around six cases with the forest department, mentioning the name and address of the local goons involved in the case. "However, each time, they registered a complaint against unknown persons," he said.

Hutments near Mankhurd

According to Menge, Ghumal has over 10 people working under him. "They build temporary huts in the area, and sell a single hut for anywhere between R4 and R7 lakh," he said.

Daney Prabhakar Ghumal, who is allegedly constructing illegal hutments on mangrove land near Shivneri Nagar in Mankhurd

When contacted, Sachin More, round officer with the forest department, said, "We have received the complaint about the encroachment and will be visiting the site today. Necessary action will be taken once investigation is done."

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