Citizens hope the Lokayukta will recommend strict action against both, the culprits and apathetic local authorities
Taking note of the brazen destruction of the mangrove forest in Dahisar, the Maharashtra Lokayukta — retired high court Justice ML Tahaliyani — arrived at the scene yesterday to evaluate the situation. He is expected to file a report soon, recommending action against those responsible.
Maharashtra Lokayukta, retired Justice ML Tahaliyani, at the mangroves forest in Dahisar
Earlier this month, mid-day had reported how close to 500 residents had staged a strong protest against land mafia and private bus operators who had wiped out half-an-acre of mangroves and were using the space to park their buses instead ('Bus karo! Mangroves made way for parking space, say angry locals', May 6).
The citizens alleged that they had complained to the police, the BMC and the collector's office, to no avail. After finding no response from the local authorities, last month the locals complained to the Lokayukta body, which reviews corruption in state government agencies.
"Since the time the issue of dumping started on this plot, we have been running from pillar to post, including to the local police station, BMC ward office, and the Tehsildar's office, but nothing much happened. Now that Lokayukta sir has visited the spot, we are sure there will be a positive outcome," said Shiv Sena corporator Sheetal Mhatre.
Cops and locals turned up in large numbers at the mangroves patch in Dahisar yesterday, when the state Lokayukta paid a visit after complaints about destruction of the trees. Pics/Satej Shinde
Mhatre and former mayor Shubha Raul explained to the Lokayukta how the ecologically sensitive mangrove forest is being destroyed and how the culprits were committing serious environmental violations. Nearly 100 local residents were present at the spot.
Environmentalist and activist Harish Pande also showed the retired Justice mid-day's front-page report from yesterday, which highlighted how a school in Andheri had not only cut a huge stretch of trees but was also threatening the local mangroves with construction (See box). Pande pointed out that the threat to mangroves was growing with time.
"We have been fighting to save the mangroves and we expect that in the future, we will get full cooperation from the government departments, including the police station, BMC and the Tehsildar's office," said Pande, who has been fighting to save mangroves in the Dahisar, Borivli and Kandivli belts.
mid-day coverage on mangroves
Yesterday, mid-day's cover story highlighted how an Andheri school had wiped out half-an-acre of trees and is now threatening the local mangrove patch by constructing a road and parking lot for school buses.
Following the report, officials from the Tehsildar's office yesterday visited the plot at SVP Nagar in Andheri West. However, a local resident alleged that despite that, the school had not stopped laying concrete and paver blocks at the site. (Read the full story here)