Mumbai: BMC saves mangroves, tears down 50 shanties

Following Sunday mid-day's report, the civic body demolished over 50 shanties in Charkop village to rid mangroves of squatters; demolition to continue until all illegal structures — new and old — are removed

A day after Sunday mid-day exposed the brazen attempt by land sharks to gobble a 52-acre plot of mangrove forest in Charkop village near Laxmi Nagar, BMC officials from Kandivli swung into action and executed a major demolition drive in the area yesterday.

Cops stand guard as civic officials demolish illegal structures
Cops stand guard as civic officials demolish illegal structures

What initially appeared to be a small bunch of shanties turned out to be a cluster of 60 newly constructed huts and another 140 old structures in the adjoining area, informed BMC officers who conducted the drive.

Assistant Engineer Sandeep Rajadakshya, who headed the demolition team and guided the JCB to the site, claimed they successfully razed over 50 shanties. "We faced a few technical issues with the JCB and would be visiting the site tomorrow (Tuesday) to demolish the remaining illegal structures. I had visited the site on Sunday evening following instructions from my seniors, who have also asked us to ensure that our vigilance and drives remain an ongoing process" said Rajadakshya.

Assistant Municipal Commissioner (R-south) Sahebrao Gaikwad said his office has sought extra police protection during the demolition drive and are also planning to build a seven-feet wide trench to prevent trucks from accessing the mangroves for dumping debris.

Expressing his concerns over attempts made by land mafia to reclaim land by killing mangrove forests, activist Reji Abraham said it was now up to the civic authorities to ensure that the drive reaches its logical conclusion and the mangrove forest is cleared of the debris for regeneration.

Abraham, president of NGO United Association for Social Education and Public Welfare, was the first to bring the dumping issue to the fore.

Abraham said, "This [prevention of encroachment] is only possible when cases are filed against violators under the MRTP Act. Moreover, officials must seize the demolished material rather than leave it behind at the spot because squatters rebuild illegal structures using the same material."

Case history
When this correspondent visited the site on Saturday afternoon, he observed that a massive portion of the mangrove forest had been cleared and demarcated with Republican Party of India –Athavale (RPI-A) flags. When contacted, RPI-A PRO Mayur Borkar stated that the illegal work was being done without their knowledge or consent and the miscreants must face the music.

60
Total number of newly constructed shanties

140
Old illegal structures on the adjoining plot

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