A public toilet, being constructed under the government’s flagship Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, in Kandivli has hit a road block after it was found to have been encroaching on a mangrove patch.
Though sources said the project had been taken up by the local ward office, assistant municipal commissioner Sahebrao Gaikwad, who is in charge of the office, remained unavailable for comment.
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Meanwhile, assistant conservator of forests with the state forest department, Makarand Ghodke said, “We have so far registered an offence against two JCB operators for the violation,” adding that two people have been arrested in the matter.
As per norms, no construction is permitted within 50 metres of mangrove areas, which are classified as reserve forests.
“It appears that the civic body was conducting the construction. But we are carrying out further investigations in this regard. Although it is clear that mangroves were destroyed during the construction,” said Ghodke.
The forest officials said that the civic officials responsible would be booked under the law if their role is established in the offence.
The forest department’s action was followed by a complaint from an environmental activist.
“The eco-sensitive belt had been rid of encroachments through a couple of recent encroachment drives. In this case too, we have demanded immediate demolition of the unauthorised structure and action against those responsible,” said Reji Abraham, the activist.
Indicating that the toilet construction could be a part of a larger sinister plot, Abraham said, “The local land mafia had earlier destroyed large tracts of mangrove land, building huts and putting up illegal containers in violation of norms.”
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