This exposes CIDCO’s claims that it has handed over all mangroves under its jurisdiction to the Forest Department, NatConnect Foundation said
NAVI MUMBAI: At least 500 mangroves have been killed as huge stretches of the vital sea plants have come under a major threat at Kharghar and Kalamboli nodes of Navi Mumbai with debris dumping, building artificial bunds and land grab, thanks to the failure of multiple government officials, environmentalists have complained.
These mangrove zones are under CIDCO jurisdiction, Forest officials have confirmed.
“This exposes CIDCO’s claims that it has handed over all mangroves under its jurisdiction to the Forest Department,” NatConnect Foundation director B N Kumar pointed out. It is this delay that is causing harm to the mangroves as it is allowing unchecked encroachment.
Taking note of the green groups’ complaints, the Navi Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit has pointed out that at least 500 mangroves were killed at Kharghar alone. The Range Forest Officer of the Mangrove Unit M L Manjare has now written to the revenue Sub-Divisional Officer requesting to take action.
Meanwhile, a Revenue department’s vehicle got stuck in the slush at Kharghar on Thursday when the officials went there for inspection. “We will go again and take necessary legal action,” an official said.
Manjare, also stated in his letter that at Kalamboli on over a kilometre stretch about 80 marble shops and huts have come up in the mangrove zone in survey numbers 18, 19, 21 and 32. Marble and other debris has been dumped on the vital sea plants. The Panvel Municipal Corporation under which the area falls does not seem to have taken any preventive action against the illegal structures, the RFO said.
As regards Kharghar’s sector-10, Manjare letter names one Rajesh Patil of Kopara village who built a bund with cement bags, blocked intertidal flow that resulted in the death of 400 to 500 mangroves. The Forest official also notices largescale dumping of debris on mangroves here.
The Forest Department is in a piquant situation as it is not empowered to files cases under the Environment Protection Act 1986 which authorises only Environment Secretary, District Collectors, Pollution Control Board and the SDOs, NatConnect Foundation pointed out.
A Maharashtra Government request to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Control (MOEFCC) for extending these powers to the Forest Department has been pending since January 2021. NatConnect has already filed an RTI application with the MOEFCC to know the status.
NatConnect has also brought it to the notice of the MOEFCC that the Kharghar police had earlier turned down a request from the Forest department to register an FIR and directed them to the revenue SDO.
“What Manjare has pointed out is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Nareshchandra Singh of Kharghar Hill and Wetland.
In sector-10 alone there is a 13 ha thick mangrove zone which is under constant threat, Singh said.