Navi Mumbai mangroves in danger, again

Over 100 illegal shanties have come up near Vashi toll plaza and Kalamboli along the Sion-Panvel Highway

The mangrove cover across Navi Mumbai continues to be under constant threat due to repeated encroachments. Shanties have come up on the mangrove stretch along the Sion-Panvel Highway in spite of a strict crackdown in December last year. To add to that, rampant debris-dumping activity continues to take place along the stretch.

The shanties along Vashi creek. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
The shanties along Vashi creek. Pics/Datta Kumbhar 

Over 100 makeshift shanties spread across an acre have come up near Vashi toll plaza and Kalamboli on the Sion-Panvel Highway. Construction of a temple is also underway near the banks of the mangrove creek near Kalamboli.

Encroachment on wetlands has been a major issue in the satellite town and last year the Navi Mumbai Environment Preservation Society (NMEPS) even filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court raising concern over the destruction of wetlands in the city.

The fast diminishing mangrove cover at Kalamboli creek
The fast diminishing mangrove cover at Kalamboli creek 

N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest (mangrove cell), said, "Last year in December, we had taken action against all the mangrove encroachers along the Sion-Panvel highway. We have also conducted surprise checks to keep a tab on such activities. We will look into the matter once again."

Environmentalist Stalin Dayanand revealed that a few years ago there were no shanties near the toll plaza. "In the year 2013, when the work on the expansion of Sion-Panvel Highway started, the shanties had come up in the mangrove region. However, now they seem to be growing," Dayanand said.

Rampant debris dumping activity at Seawoods creek
Rampant debris dumping activity at Seawoods creek

Debris dumping
Meanwhile, unauthorised dumping of debris in open spaces has also become a major concern in Navi Mumbai. A plot next to Seawoods station has been turned into a debris dumping spot.

Ankush Chavan, additional commissioner and in charge of anti-encroachment department at NMMC, said, "The menace of debris dumping usually takes place in the night. We have formed a special anti-debris squad to curb such activities."

He added that they have received a complaint from the plot next to Seawoods station, which belongs to CIDCO and NMMC. However, CIDCO officials claimed to be unaware but have promised to look into the matter.

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