Mumbai: Land mafia sets fire to mangroves in Kandivli, Mangrove cell looks the other way

Updated: 22 November, 2017 19:03 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

They have begun setting fire to the patch; Mangroves Cell says the area is not yet under their jurisdiction

Just weeks after mid-day reported on the local mafia destroying mangroves in Versova, land mafia has begun destroying one of the last remaining mangrove patches near Atharva College in Kandivli. The Forest Department needs to document and safeguard all remaining patches in the larger interest of the city, say environmentalists.

On the destruction of mangroves at Versova
On the destruction of mangroves at Versova

RTI activist and environment lover Shariq Raza has been fighting to save the mangroves forest in Malad and Kandivli west. The mangroves patch along the New Link Road stretch between Malad and Borivali has been facing a threat from illegal encroachments. A couple of days back, residents from Kandivli west saw smoke coming from the mangroves forest, which they believe was an attempt to destroy them.

The mangroves set afire next to Atharva College, Kandivli
The mangroves set afire next to Atharva College, Kandivli

'Take action'
Speaking to mid-day Raza said, "Over the years the mangroves forest stretch between Malad and Dahisar has been facing threats from illegal encroachments. The mangroves forests are being systematically killed to construct houses but the authorities are least bothered. A few days back one of my friends had sent me a picture of the fire that seems to have been set off in the mangroves forest patch opposite Atharva College in Kandivli west. I think the concerned authorities need to take this issue seriously and take action against those responsible before the entire patch disappears."

Raza said his friend took the picture a month back and since then he has seen the site and seen how the mangroves are being targeted. "It's difficult to go to the location and click pictures because the people who are there get angry when someone tries to do that," he added.

Environmentalist Harish Pande who has also been fighting to save mangroves between Kandivli and Dahisar said, "The protection of mangroves and coastal water bodies is the job of the government, but the sad part is that there are hardly any government departments who are bothered about doing so. At many places in Dahisar and Kandivli the mangroves are facing a threat every day, and if the authorities don't take steps to protect them, then it will be too late as the damage to the environment is irreversible."

What authorities say
Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Makarand Ghodke from the Mangroves Cell said, "The area opposite Atharva College with the mangroves cover does not come under our jurisdiction, as it has not yet been handed over to us by the revenue department. We have continuously taken action against the encroachments that come up on the area that falls in our jurisdiction."

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First Published: 22 November, 2017 19:00 IST

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