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Mid-Day Newspaper, 13 Feb 2020

Environmentalist in Navi Mumbai have raised a stink against the alleged destruction of mangroves in the region around Bamandevi Marg, Karave gaon in Nerul. The mangroves, locals allege, are first set on fire and debris is then dumped on the burnt mangroves to hide them. The dumping around wetlands is currently being undertaken to construct roads, clearly violating the Bombay High Court's 'total freeze' on mangrove destruction.

Locals have been complaining to the forest departments and mangrove cells of Navi Mumbai and Raigad districts about the destruction on the Ulwe side of the river opposite Sector 15 CBD Belapur too. "Two days ago, a huge fire was lit to destroy mangroves near the helipad. I called 1926 to complain and on Tuesday, Range Forest Officer Prakash Choudhari asked me to contact the Raigad District Forest Department. We are focusing on saving Navi Mumbai's environment for a better tomorrow, but the authorities are not helping us," said Shubhangi Tirodkar, a Navi Mumbai resident and nature lover.

Local activist Sunil Agarwal of the Save Navi Mumbai Environment group said that "this was a clear case of land grabbing by some land mafia as authorities are unsure of the ownership of land." Having visited the site of destruction with Forest Officer Tukaram Patil, Agarwal said, "We saw heaps of dry grass kept at the boundaries of the mangroves and some burnt grass patches. Forest department officials are trying to trace the landowners and the people behind these burning incidents. My concern is how the mangroves are going to be restored."

"The area behind NRI Complex has seen massive destruction of mangroves to make way for a jetty and a peripheral road. I am not against development, destroying the ecology is not justified. Even the entry of seawater is being systematically closed," Agarwal added. RFO Choudhari said that the culprits are being traced.

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