A week after stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma courted controversy by tweeting about a BMC official demanding Rs 5 lakh bribe, he now faces an FIR for destruction of mangroves. Officials from the District Collector for Mumbai Suburban initiated the process of registering the FIR against Sharma on Saturday. The action from the Collector’s office comes after the mangrove cell of the Forest department submitted a single-page report on Saturday stating that mangroves had been destroyed by Sharma.
Deependra Singh Kushwah, District Collector for Mumbai Suburban, confirmed revenue officials had been instructed to register the FIR on priority under the Environment Protection Act. “We have received the report and I have instructed my office to register an FIR on priority,” Kushwah told The Indian Express.
“We have sought details of the plot from MHADA and approved plan from the BMC. We have initiated the process of registering FIR against Sharma,” said another senior official.
This would be the second FIR against Sharma in less than a week. For illegal alterations in Oshiwara flat, the BMC has filed an FIR against him.
The report states the mangrove destruction, by dumping debris, happened after 2005. Many other bungalows in the same lane have also destroyed the mangroves, it stated.
On Monday, forest officials surveyed a stretch of more than 400 metres of mangroves in Andheri West and found a majority of the bungalows had encroached it. A forest official said at least 50 bungalow owners, including celebrities from Bollywood, in Versova have destroyed the mangrove in the area.
An official added that the FIR would not be registered against the other 50 bungalow owners as claimed by forest officials. “The report of the forest officials is vague about the other bungalows. It says ‘majority bungalows’ have destroyed mangroves but it does specify details about it. So, we have written to them seeking to provide us exact details about the mangrove destruction by other bungalow owners,” added a senior official.
Last week, Sharma tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a Twitter post claiming that a BMC official had demanded a bribe of Rs 5 lakh for the construction of his office. Sharma was at the receiving end of activists and political parties, as civic body’s records indicated that the K West ward office had carried out a demolition of illegal extensions atop and adjacent to his bungalow in Versova. Officials had claimed these extensions had led to a portion of mangroves abutting the bungalow being destroyed.