Mumbai: NCP leader booked for illegal construction near Versova mangrove forest

Cops registered the FIR three days after mid-day reported how the politician’s school took over an open space and put the mangroves in danger by building a road there

Three days after mid-day highlighted how an NCP leader’s school had completely taken over half-an-acre of open space and was illegally turning it into a road and parking lot for school buses, the Versova police station finally registered an FIR in the matter on Monday.

The NCP leader was in the process of completely concretising the ground. It’s also clear that the construction is less than 50 metres from the mangroves. Pic/Pradeep DhivarThe NCP leader was in the process of completely concretising the ground. It’s also clear that the construction is less than 50 metres from the mangroves. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Not only were several trees cut down at the plot, but the construction is too close to the Versova mangrove forest, putting the trees there at risk.

On Monday, the police lodged an FIR against NCP leader Narendra Varma, who is the chairman of Janki Devi Public School at SVP Nagar in Andheri (W). Local citizens have been fighting to protect the area for over a decade, but allege that Varma would get away because of his political influence.

On Monday afternoon, BJP Mumbai secretary Vivekanand Gupta and locals gathered at the spot, along with officials from the suburban collector’s office, BMC K-West Ward, local police and the Tehsildar’s office. Rohidas Tare, an official from Tehisildaar office visited the area for inspection and observed that the work of laying the paver blocks was in violation of Section 15 (1) and (2) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Varma was booked under the Environment Protection Act, based on this report and a complaint from the official. An official from Versova police station said, “The locals had complained to us that the NCP leader and trustee of Janki Devi

Public School had violated the law by fixing paver blocks on the MHADA plot. We have also observed that the distance of paver blocks is less than 50 metres away from the mangroves forest adjacent to the plot. The tehsildar’s office submitted the report to us and complained about the violation. Based on this, we registered an FIR.”

What is shocking is that even though the police and the tehsildar’s office have found that the NCP leader had put the mangroves in danger by building so close to it, the Mangroves Cell itself has taken no action.

“The Mangroves Cell, which was formed to protect mangroves, is yet to take any measures to protect the ecologically sensitive mangroves. They seem to be the least interested and haven’t even visited the spot,” said a local activist.

The other side
NCP leader and chairman of Janki Devi public school, Narendra Varma said, “Today, I was informed that a case has been registered. All I want to say is that someone is deliberately trying to malign the school, which is giving quality education to the students from all strata of society.”

He added, “On Friday, officials from the Tehsildar’s office inspected the spot and the panchnama was read out to me before my signature was taken. In what was read out to me, it was clearly mentioned that we have not done any illegal construction nor we have done any destruction to the trees or mangroves. After signing the panchanama, I told the authorities to hand me a photocopy, to which they said they would give it to me on Monday or Tuesday.”

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