In their attempt to check the destruction of mangroves near their coastal homes, residents of Andheri's Lokhandwala Complex have found themselves at loggerheads with concerned authorities.
In a complaint letter to the Oshiwara police station on Wednesday, the Mumbai residents expressed that cutting of trees, dumping of garbage and construction within the notified Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) had damaged the mangrove cover in their neighborhood. Yet the police are unfazed, say some of the residents.
According to residents of Nav Karan, Springfields, Silver Springs and Samarth Krupa bulldozers are being blatantly used to destroy mangroves lining the stretch from the Lokhandwala creek to the bridge near Joggers' Park.
"Construction activity has started in the corner a plot behind Nav Karan and Samarth Krupa. This plot comes within 50 meters around the Lokhandwala mangrove forest making the activity illegal as per a Bombay high court ruling which prohibits any construction within 50 meters of mangrove forests", quoted one habitant.
Well-known filmmaker Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi, a resident of Springfields, who is also among the complainants, was reported that he had visited the police station on Tuesday but found the personnel unhelpful.
"Despite a court receiver board's order, we can see construction and dumping on the ground. But the police behaved as if we were harassing them and asked us to contact the BMC as it was in their jurisdiction", says Vaseem Dehlvi, a documentary film-maker and resident of Nav Karan. "The police was not co-operative and told us to check with the BMC. But as per the court ruling, it is the job of the police to stop people from destroying mangroves", he added.
According to the HC judgment (April 12, 2005), the state must not allow any development activity along the coast if it involves the destruction of mangroves. The police and civic officials are expected to cooperate on this issue.
In response, senior police inspector of Oshiwara police station Kiran Sonone had this to offer: "This is just one application. We get 250 such applications every day. Once the application is given, officers look into the matter. How are residents so sure that these are mangroves? If we find that these are mangroves, we will definitely take action."