The task, to remove encroachments on nearly four acres of mangrove land in Mumbai, has been carried out over the last two months in suburban Chembur and its neighbouring areas, where people had built small huts, a senior official said.
“The encroachments had caused a major problem for the mangrove land and we were waiting for all permissions from the state government,” chief conservator of forests, Mangrove Cell, N Vasudevan said. “More than 2,000 huts and illegal structures have been removed in Chembur and the neighbouring areas,” he said.
“The mangroves are vulnerable and due to the rising population, there is increased need for houses which leads to illegal encroachments. The ecosystem of the mangroves should be protected. Hence, we decided to carry out an eviction drive with the support of police and civic officials. The decision to remove the encroachments was taken in September 2016, but its implementation was delayed – first due to the monsoon and then, because of the non-availability of staff due to other important works. The eviction was not initiated on humanitarian grounds in September,” Vasudevan said.
The official said that now fencing will be done around the mangroves, to avoid such rampant encroachment. The state government has already sanctioned around Rs two crores, for the construction of fences, he said.
The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms came into effect in 1991, mandating restoration of the mangroves to the pre-1991 status. However, there have been incidents of gross violations. The Bombay High Court had in 2005, issued directives for avoiding further violation of the Environment Protection Act-1986, the official added.