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Plea for Mangrove Control Room to check debris mafia

MUMBAI: Describing the Bombay High Court verdict to protect mangroves as ‘very encouraging’, environment activists have called for setting up a centralized control room to check culprits who have been deliberately killing the sea plants in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

Pointing out that the High Court has ordered putting up CCTV cameras in mangrove areas, the activists appealed to the government to  link them to a central control room on the lines of traffic police monitoring cells.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has already referred to the home department a suggestion for a Rapid Action Force (RAF) to check debris mafia, said B N Kumar, editor of environment-focused web site thenatureconnnect.com, who received a mail response from the CMO to a request to save mangroves in MMR. “This force could function under the control room,” the activist said.

Recalling that Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has proposed to build a protective wall along Sion-Panvel highway at Vashi to check debris mafia dumping construction waste on mangroves, he suggested that  CCTV cameras must be installed with proper lights to keep a watch on the unscrupulous elements.

On the one hand, the forest department has already confirmed the killing of 4,500 mangroves in Uran area where massive reclamation has been going on while on the other, debris mafia is causing an irreparable damage to the sea plants along Sion-Panvel highway and other parts, Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP), pointed out.

SEAP and thenatureconnect.com have launched a campaign - #IamMamngroveIamDying - on the Earth Day this year to focus attention on indiscriminate destruction of mangroves and warned that a Kerala type disaster could engulf MMR “if we do not take care of the environment.”

“We hope that the authorities will now wake up and act against the culprits,” said Pawar, spearheading a campaign to protect mangroves in MMR.

In this context, he sought to draw the attention of the government to a holding pond sites in Uran where sea water has been blocked resulting in the death of mangroves across over 500 hectares. He called for opening the gates to allow free flow of water during high and low tides. “This will help mangroves survive and allow the local fishermen to practice their business as their constitutional right,” Pawar said.

The activists have also asked CIDCO to desist from destroying mangroves and wetland at Seawoods at Nerul in Navi Mumbai for creating a golf course and a housing complex.