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Maharashtra: Ex-NCP chief booked for ‘destroying’ mangroves

FIR says he violated Environment Protection Act by constructing road, laying paver blocks within 50 m of mangroves

Written by Geetanjali Gurlhosur, SANKET JAIN | Mumbai |
May 18, 2016 1:21:22 am
Photo for representational purpose Photo for representational purpose

THE Versova police station on Tuesday lodged an FIR against Narendra Verma, former spokesperson and city chief of the Nationalist Congress Party, for allegedly constructing a road and laying paver blocks within 50 metre of mangroves near the Jankidevi Public School in Andheri (West).

The FIR cites violation of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. Verma, who is also associated with the educational institution, said in his defence that there were more than 300 slums on the plot and that the school has the plot of land for 14 years.

Denying the charges, he said no mangroves had been destroyed and the wetland was located some distance from the school. Officials from the local tehsildar’s office visited the site last week following complaints by local residents.

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BJP Mumbai Secretary Vivekanand Gupta, who also visited the site and informed the police about the destruction of mangroves and alleged construction of a road for private use, said he also informed MHADA, which has leased the land to the school, as well as the tehsildar of Andheri.

“This is illegal construction of a road, and hacking of mangroves is playing havoc with nature,” said Gupta, alleging that Verma has tried to crush a local residents’ movement to protect the greenery.

Verma alleged that officers from the circle office of the Andheri tehsil visited the site on Friday and took his signature on a panchnama that did not state that mangroves had been destroyed.

“Certain things have transpired in the last two days without my knowledge. But I will fight till the end,” Verma said, insisting there has been no wrongdoing.

Residents of the area said the the school used the plot as parking space for school buses.

“We are simply cleaning up the space around our school by laying paver blocks. Earlier, there used to be a lot of dust and mud in this place, which was a nuisance for both schoolchildren and residents of the area,” said Sunil Shinde, from the management of Jankidevi Public School.

“We have all the necessary paperwork and permission from the MHADA. There was no deforestation involved.”

Kiran Kale, Senior Police Inspector of Versova police station, said the investigation was underway.

Anjali Pawar, Andheri tehsildar, said the investigation by their team was now complete and officials were awaiting a report from the mangrove cell.

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