Illegal construction and encroachment activities have resulted into the destruction of mangroves in Kanakia Park, Mira Road. Even though residents and activists have filed complaint with the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation against BJP MLA Narendra Mehta for hacking mangroves to construct realty projects they have turned a blind eye towards this issue. Mehta is the founder of Seven Eleven Group of Companies with business interests in construction, healthcare and education projects. Thus residents are fighting a lone battle to save mangroves in the suburb. Mangroves act as a natural barrier and prevent soil erosion and flooding in a city like Mumbai which witnesses heavy rainfall. However, sand and building construction materials are dumped to destroy mangroves to make way for realty projects in the city.
Infrastructure development is essential for the city’s development but it should not come at the cost of the environment. After a public interest litigation (PIL) by Bombay Environment Action Group — an NGO in Mumbai — in 2005, the Bombay High Court had banned destruction of mangroves across the state and construction within 50 metres of them. Despite this city has lost large area of mangroves due to illegal construction activities. Often clearances are given for construction of real estate projects without taking into consideration its impact on the environment. Environmentalists have called for the protection of mangroves, wetlands and waterbodies which will prevent flooding in the city.
Ramdas Kadam, Maharashtra Environment Minister said, “Law is equal for everyone irrespective of the designation they hold. It is illegal to destroy mangroves and action will be taken against offenders. If mangroves are hacked then it will affect the environment. We will take action against the accused responsible for this act as they have violated court’s order.”
Dr Naresh Gite, Commissioner, Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation said, “I have already instructed officials to protect mangroves and take stringent action against the accused. We have always been protesting against illegal constructions happening in Mira-Bhayander and have issued a circular to prevent them.”
Sukdev Benbansi, AAP leader from Mira-Bhayander said, “We had organised a protest against the destruction of mangroves. It is our responsibility to protect environment and BJP MLA Narendra Mehta is responsible for illegal construction activities occurring in Mira-Bhayander. However, the Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) officials, Thane Tehsil and police have failed to take any action against him. Mehta is violating court order on Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and hacking mangroves which will create ecological imbalance.”
Tahsildar Kisan Badane said, “We will initiate a probe in this matter and will take necessary action against the accused.”