Pointing out that the maximum damage to mangrove areas, have taken place in Colaba, Worli and Malvani, the Mangrove Cell of the Maharashtra government is likely to start fencing these areas by February 2017. “Our team has completed the survey of these areas, including route of the fence and we have received the state government’s sanction for Rs three crores,” chief conservator of forest (Mangrove Cell), N Vasudevan said.
“The projected cost for construction of the fence is Rs six crores, of which Rs three crores should be utilised before the beginning of the monsoon season. The cost is for the first phase only. The proposals were being discussed since September 2016,” he said. The Mangrove Cell undertook detailed route mapping and assessed actual encroachment and routes used by people, for entering the restricted area of mangroves, he added.
“My team is ready to face some opposition, as a section of the society would be agitated with the measures. Our work is for the conservation of the environment. Hence, we will go ahead with the fencing plan,” he said.
In the aftermath of an FIR registered recently against stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma for allegedly destroying mangroves due to illegal construction near his bungalow in Andheri and other similar incidents, the state government’s Mangrove Cell swung into action and came up with a project to construct a fence with Rs 20 crores, of which plans worth Rs six crores have been approved.
“Mumbai has a total of 5,469 hectares of mangrove land, which is notified as a reserved forest. Of this, 2%-3% is vulnerable to encroachments and in many pockets, it has been already encroached,” Vasudevan said. The Mangrove Cell will also use other measures, such as CCTV and satellite-based monitoring, to keep a check on encroachments, as part of its extensive protection plan.
Most of the encroachments have taken place in areas like Colaba, Trombay, Malvani and Charkop, the official said.