There were multiple complaints regarding the illegal hacking of mangroves at the Panje wetland in Uran.
NAVI MUMBAI: Following multiple complaints regarding the illegal hacking of mangroves at the Panje wetland in Uran, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has directed the state forest department to look into this issue. The revenue department officials will also be inquiring into the matter, along with the forest department. The greens have welcomed the move and urged the authorities to effectively stop further degradation of nature.
“We received a communique from the CM’s office on Sunday stating that the secretary of forest department, Milind Mhaiskar, will be looking into the grave issue of illegal cutting of mangroves at Panje. Hopefully, the environmental destruction should stop now at least in order to save the wetland which is also a bird rich region,” said the director of the NGO NatConnect Foundation, BN Kumar.
Environmentalist Debi Goenka of Conservation Action Trust (CAT) said: “It is shocking that the mangroves at Panje are being illegally cut despite several complaints lodged with the state authorities in the last few days. This shows that certain vested interests are hellbent on grabbing the land. The forest department and the Bombay high court mangroves protection panel must take tough measures in this case.”
Activist and advocate Siddh Vidya indicated in her email to the authorities that it is likely that some of the government officials may be mixed up with the `vested interests’ to illegally take over the Panje wetland. “I have no hesitation in saying that such fearless approach of offenders clearly depict that authorities are either hand in gloves or highly incompetent/ irresponsible. Hoping for strict and prompt action this time,” said Vidya.
The act of chopping the mangroves is obviously the handiwork of vested interests who are keen to grab the wetland for real estate development, BN Kumar added.
“This is exactly why we are insisting with the government to immediately declare Panje as Bird Sanctuary and protect it. Any delay would cause an irreparable damage to the environment,” Kumar said.
The wetland stretches between Panje and Dongri and covers in all five villages.
The repeated acts of environmental damage at Panje and the entire Uran by certain project proponents clearly show that no one cares for the law there, said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan.
“It is tragic that this is happening even as environment minister Aditya Thackeray ordered halt to construction at Panje and the high court appointed Mangrove Committee asked Cidco to preserve the area. MCZMA has itself submitted to the high court that said Panje comes under CRZ-1,” Pawar said.
“We have also called for follow-up on the FIRs filed against NMSEZ officials for damaging Pagote and Bhendkhal wetlands,” Pawar said.