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   Home >> Library index >> Mangroves >> Versova residents join hands to save mangrove
Versova residents join hands to save mangrove 
By Somit Sen /TNN 

Mumbai: Four years ago, like-minded citizens from Versova came together to remove encroachments on the mangroves situated near Nana-Nani park. They also put up a 30-feet-long fence outside the cleared plot to prevent any further encroachments and save the 
mangroves. But on Sunday morning, they were in for a rude shock as they found the fence broken. 
Said Harendra Bhasin, president of the Save Versova Beach Association, “A builder is trying to construct an access road (to a building site in the vicinity) on this open plot. But on Saturday night and on Sunday morning, about 15 to 20 men were spotted breaking the fence and uprooting some of the saplings which we had planted there.’’ 
Bhasin, along with four other members of his association and Usha Kiran, chairperson of Save Forum, rushed to the nearby police chowkie, only to find it locked. They then went to the Versova police station, where the duty officer recorded a non-cognisable offence and sent three policemen to stop 
the “intruders’’. 
Said Bhasin, “The cops have not taken a serious stand on the issue except for issuing a simple warning to the building contractor, identified as one Khan and asking him to rebuild the fence.’’ Bhasin plans to file a case through his advocate highlighting the uprooting of tree saplings, which is a grave offence, and removing the fence— the purpose of which was to prevent encroachments into the mangroves. 
Said Kiran, “Today, we allow somebody to construct a road on a part of the plot. Tomorrow, you will have a huge slum coming up and they will encroach upon several acres of mangroves.’’ 
Said Rajesh Vora, member of Save Forum, “It is illegal to construct an access road on the open plot as there is no such provision in the development plan, a copy of which is with the Save Forum.’’ The local residents plan to meet the contractor, on Monday to check whether he has any permission to construct the road. The contractor was unavailable for comment. 
An officer from the Versova police station said the police “promptly’’ rushed to the spot and asked the contractor and his men to come to the police station. ‘‘Their statements were recorded and they were asked to rebuild the fence,’’ the officer stated. The fence was still not constructed when this correspondent visited the spot, situated between Magnum Opus and Anita Apartments, on Sunday evening. 
Said Bhasin, “There were mangroves on this 30 metres by 50 metres open plot, but encroachers set up small hutments in 2000. It was then that residents from nearby high-rises came out on the street and removed the encroachments.’’ 
“A fence was then erected and saplings were planted to beautify the plot,’’ Bhasin said adding that some of the saplings that were planted a few months ago were uprooted by the contractor’s men on Sunday.