200 acres of mangroves wiped out

In what could be one of the biggest destruction of mangroves in the Mumbai metropolitan region, around 200 acres of verdant mangroves in Vasai creek in the Mira-Bhyander belt have been systematically wiped out in a span of just one year. Truckloads of construction debris and garbage were being dumped near the creek. Kachcha roads were being cut deep into the mangrove area so that trucks carrying garbage could go deep into the mangrove forest. When questioned, the truck driver said that they were dumping the garbage on the instructions of the municipal corporation. The western coast has around 8,000 hectares of mangroves, out of which around 3,000 hectares are on the 47 km-long Vasai creek alone. But over the past one year, a large stretch of mangroves here have been reclaimed by builders, allegedly in connivance with the MBMC. Greens say that lot of damage has already been done . “They have reclaimed hundreds of acres of land which had mangroves . This creek is a haven for migratory birds and breeding ground for fishes. The fishing community in Uttan says that they have been seeing a decrease in their catch,” Joseph Gonsalves, an environmental activist, said. The Ulhas river that enters from Thane district through the neighbouring Raigad joins the Vasai creek and then joins the Arabian Sea. The 47-km Vasai creek had around 3,000 hectares of mangroves. Of this, half has been destroyed. There is a 10,000 strong fishing community that stays near the creek and the verdant mangroves form a virtual rampart against tidal instabilities and preserve the fragile eco-system.

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