Land mafia burning down mangroves to build huts: Versova residents

Nov 07, 2017, 20:57 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

For over a year, Versova residents have been shouting that local land mafia has been systematically destroying mangroves by burning old tyres to build huts in the area

For over a year, Versova residents have been shouting that local land mafia has been systematically destroying mangroves by burning old tyres to build huts in the area. Now, resident of a nearby tower has documented the activity - in photos and a video - and wants action to be taken at the earliest.

Pictures taken by a resident show smoke billowing from the mangroves, allegedly after tyres were burnt to destroy them, and huts built in the cleared space
Pictures taken by a resident show smoke billowing from the mangroves, allegedly after tyres were burnt to destroy them, and huts built in the cleared space

mid-day has consistently reported about mangrove patches being sacrificed to construct hutments in the western suburbs.

Up in smoke
In Versova's mangrove patch on Yari Road, 15 to 20 hutments have already come up.

A resident, Chris Kane, said, "I have been staying here for 10 years. Over the last one year, hutments have started coming up on the mangroves patch. Tyres are also being burnt there to destroy the green. We are going to approach the authorities soon and request them to take action before it is too late."

Another resident said, "It's been close to a year now that the mangroves are being killed by burning tyres. Once the trees are dead, the area is cleared to construct huts. If the concerned authorities don't take steps to protect the mangroves, we will soon lose this ecologically important patch."

The residents also told mid-day that there were three municipal gardens in the area, and with the burning tyres making the air pollution worse, it could affect those who frequented the gardens.

Jurisdiction jhamela
Assistant Conservator of Forests at the Mangroves Cell, Makrand Ghodke said, "The mangroves behind the fisheries institute fall in the jurisdiction of the suburban collector. Only after they are handed over to us can we take action."

Sources from the Mangroves Cell said they were in touch with the suburban collector's office, and chances were that a huge chunk of the patch would be handed over to it.

Stalin D from NGO Vanashakti said, "The slum mafia is responsible for the destruction of mangroves. The collector's office has turned a blind eye to the encroachments. If no action is taken soon the entire stretch will become a huge slum."

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