While civic activists and environmentalists express concern over constructions activities, dumping of filth and encroachments eating into green stretches, a survey carried out by students of St Xavier’s College along with their professor has substantiated the worries of citizens.
According to a study by students Ashwin D’souza, Zinia D’souza, Danette Gomes, Rutvij Kulkarni and Nikita Braganza under the guidance of professor Avkash Jadhav the mangroves stretch at Carter Road (Khar) has increased, while that in Versova was found to have maintained status quo. A similar study carried out by comparing satellite images taken between 2000 and 2012 claims the stretch in Ganpat Patil Nagar in Dahisar has decreased, thanks to alleged illegal dumping of debris and encroachment in the belt.
“The mangrove belt in Khar has increased due to the alertness of local residents. The situation has not changed much in Versova, while the trend is worrying in Dahisar despite the cover being dense,” said Jadhav, a councillor with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The professor added that even though the green cover in Bandra-Khar area has improved, openings of sewage lines in sea water may deteriorate the situation in time to come. In Dahisar, he added, strict measures need to be taken up by all government agencies.
“People have started dumping in mangroves in Khar too. In Dahisar, illegal activities like parking of vehicles in mangroves and debris dumping have become rampant and the cover is in need of protection. We are going to take up the issue with state government,” the councillor added.
Reacting to the findings, civic activists said they are happy to know that the Khar mangroves have increased. Like Jadhav, they attribute the positive sign to the environment-conscious approach of locals. The activists appeared to be aware of the issue of leaving openings of sewage pipelines in sea water. “Local residents are looking into the issue. Dahisar is becoming an issue. Though the Versova stretch has maintained status quo, efforts should be taken to improve it,” said Shyama Kulkarni, trustee of city-based NGO AGNI.
Despite several attempts, officials from the state forest department remained unavailable for comment. Municipal chief Sitaram Kunte said the responsibility of conserving mangroves, declared as forest, rests with state government. “It is the responsibility of the district collector to look into the issue. We will provide them whatever logistic support is required to tackle the prevailing problems,” Kunte concluded.