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Sand mafia destroying mangroves in Dahisar belt

Local activists say illegal extraction of sand from mangrove beds has been going on for the last 4 years, and though they have written to various authorities about it, no action has been taken

Authorities seem to have turned a blind eye to rampant sand mining near the mangroves belt at Dahisar. Sand is being extracted in huge quantities every day near Ganpat Patil Nagar slums, destroying the mangroves in the process. Despite local residents having made several complaints, officials have not acted in it.

Locals say authorities, politicians and the mining firms are hand in glove in removing sand from the Dahisar mangrove belt
Locals say authorities, politicians and the mining firms are hand in glove in removing sand from the Dahisar mangrove belt

Speaking to mid-day, RTI activist Harish Pande said, “From 2010, I have been writing letters to the suburban collector, Konkan Commissioner, Mangroves Cell, and the local police station, informing them about the destruction of mangroves and illegal sand mining that is taking place at the mangroves belt. Till date, no action has been taken. If this continues, the habitat will be wiped out completely.”

Sand scooped out from the mangrove bed
Sand scooped out from the mangrove bed

This correspondent visited the spot on Saturday, and saw sand being scooped out from the mangrove plantation bed with a suction pump and motor. While we were unable to click pictures of the pump, we managed to capture the location from where the sand is removed and piled up near the mangroves, and where the trucks fill up with the sand.

Trucks being loaded with the extracted sand, which is an essential component in construction projects
Trucks being loaded with the extracted sand, which is an essential component in construction projects

A local resident from the area, requesting anonymity, told this newspaper that the authorities are aware of what is happening. “All the concerned authorities are well aware of the illegal sand mining, but they have kept mum because they are also involved in the entire chain. There is political support for it, without which such activity cannot commence,” alleged the local resident. Sand is a key material for constructing new buildings.

Affecting flora & fauna
Environment experts and nature lovers fear that the mining will adversely affect the species dependent on the mangroves. “I seriously don’t know what the authorities are doing. If the mining continues, then it will affect the flora and fauna, especially the fish and birds who are dependent on mangroves,” said Sunish Subramanian of Plants and Animal Welfare Society-Mumbai, an NGO.

Another environmentalist, Anand Pendharkar from NGO SPROUTS, added, “Illegal sand mining near the mangroves plantation will have a negative impact on marine creatures and also the global bird population that migrates every year to these places. Removing sand from the mangrove belt will destroy the breeding ground of fish, crabs and other marine life.”

Authorities say
N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, Mangroves Cell, said, “This location does not come under our jurisdiction. It’s taking place near a wetland that is outside the forest boundary. We’re preparing a report on wetlands, in which we will include details.” Mumbai suburban collector Shekhar Channe was unavailable for comment on the issue, despite many attempts made by this paper to contact him.

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