Randeep Hooda tweets about mangroves destruction at Versova

Updated: Jan 18, 2018, 18:27 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

The actor alerted the fire brigade to a blaze just 100 metres from the Versova mangroves, and also raised concerns about the rampant torching of the forest by land grabbers

Randeep HoodaRandeep Hooda

On Tuesday, Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda took to Twitter to voice his concern about the rampant torching of mangroves in Versova by land grabbers and anti-social elements. Following his tweet, the fire brigade rushed to the area and doused an ongoing fire just 100 metres from the forest.

He tweeted, "In the protected mangrove forest at Yari Road, Versova, the squatters who have encroached are now systematically burning the trees down to claim more land. The collector, BMC chief and Aaditya Thackeray have visited, to little effect. It's business as usual. Who's in charge?"

Tweeted these pictures of the fire and matchboxes found at the site
Tweeted these pictures of the fire and matchboxes found at the site

Fire doused
Hooda, who is the ambassador of Mumbai Fire Brigade, also tagged various authorities in his tweet, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the environment ministry. PS Rahangdale, chief fire officer, said, "The fire was not very big, but could have spread. However, we doused it in time." Yesterday, Hooda tweeted again, "Very grateful to the Mumbai Fire Brigade for their quick response in putting the fire out in the mangroves last night. So proud to be their ambassador."

Foul play?
Pictures from the scene show matchboxes strewn about, supporting locals' allegations that miscreants lit the fire on purpose. mid-day had reported in November 2017 that land mafia were burning down the mangrove forest to build shanties. Versova residents have made several attempts to get the authorities to tackle the issue, to no avail. Now, resident of a nearby tower has documented the activity — in photos and a video — and wants action to be taken at the earliest. This is the same spot that Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray had visited, following which illegal dwellings were demolished by the authorities.

A local from the area told mid-day that time and again, they have raised this issue with the concerned authorities, but there has not been much action. The residents fear that unless action is taken soon, the mangroves will be replaced by slums.

N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, said, "The fire did not take place inside the mangroves. The area doesn't come under our jurisdiction, as it is not a notified mangrove patch, but we will still be sending a patrolling team in the area to prevent any damage to the mangroves."

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