Slums spell doom for mangroves in Mumbai's western suburbs

Debris is being dumped and the mangroves continue to be hacked even after the Collector's office, which is nearby, took action in December against the slums in Bandra

The encroachments on a mangroves patch near the Suburban Collector's office in Bandra East are back barely a month after they were demolished in December.

The encroachments  are back in the mangroves patch. The Suburban Collector says action will be taken soon. Pic/Prakash Parsekar
The encroachments  are back in the mangroves patch. The Suburban Collector says action will be taken soon. Pic/Prakash Parsekar

mid-day had reported (Under collector's nose, encroachment in BKC killing its mangroves, March 2014) how, hardly 100 metres away from the office of the Suburban Collector in Bandra (East), mangroves were dying every day, hacked off mercilessly by slum dwellers desperate to expand their living space.

Even after the story was published, no immediate action was taken by the authorities. The area, where mangroves are being killed to construct huts by dumping debris, is not a notified forest and so the Mangroves Cell officials cannot take action. The local residents were also fed up of the encroachment and in December 2014, the collector’s office took action and the slums were demolished.

Just one month on, however, the structures have come back. The huts have come up on the mangroves patch near Dnyaneshwar Nagar, Bandra (East). Residents and activists say that if action is not taken at the earliest, this important stretch of mangroves might vanish soon and meet the fate of several mangrove patches in Mumbai.

Expert speak
Speaking to mid-day environmentalist Stalin Dayanand from NGO Vanshakti said, “The main reason why illegal structures are coming up on the private (under the collector’s jurisdiction) mangroves forest is because some corrupt officials from the Collector’s office and Tahsildar’s office are not taking any measures to stop encroachment.”

“Usually the Mangroves Cell takes action against the illegal structures or destruction of mangroves if it happens on notified mangrove forest area. But when it comes to taking action against the destruction on private forest land, the Mangroves Cell does not have the powers.

In order to save the mangroves from getting destroyed, the government should bring all the mangrove forests under the jurisdiction of one agency,” he added.

Collector speak
Suburban Collector of Mumbai District Shekhar Channe said, “We had taken action against the huts that had come up near a mangroves patch behind Bandra’s government colony, and if the structures have come up once again then action will be taken against them soon.”

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