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Fence, CCTV to protect Mumbai mangroves from encroachment

The Mangrove Cell of Maharashtra government will soon be putting up wall fences mounted with CCTV cameras around some of the most encroached mangrove spaces in Mumbai, that need protection on priority.

Speaking to DNA, Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) N Vasudevan, who heads the State Mangrove Cell said that the department had drawn up a list of sites, and the routes to it, which face regular threat by encroaches after a detailed survey of the areas they recently cleared off encroachments.

“The Cell has decided to construct wall fences, as the first line of protection. We recently demolished slums and other illegal structures that had cropped up after cutting down mangroves or dumping debris on them. The fences be backed up with CCTV surveillance,” he said.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs 10 crore, and will be funded by the State Government. The Cell has already been sanctioned Rs three crore for the project, and fencing work will start next month.

“For now wall fencing has been planned for mangrove locations at Malwani, Vikroli, Cheetah Camp and certain parts of Borivali, as they need protection on priority. It’s not an easy task, as there will be opposition from several quarters, but such stringent steps need to taken if Mumbai mangroves have to be saved,” said an official from Mangrove Cell.

“Mumbai region has total 5,469 hectares of mangrove land, which is notified as a reserved forest. Of this, 2-3 per cent is vulnerable to encroachments and in many pockets, it has been already encroached,” Vasudevan 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.