Residents of Happy Valley turn vigilantes to protect open spaces

THANE: The rampant dumping of debris in the green zone of Manpada over the past fortnight has prompted a group of citizens from a housing complex to take up the task of stopping such destruction. The denizens of the neighbouring Happy Valley complex have made it a mission to protect the open space and have also approached the civic body and forest authorities to take action against the culprits.
The citizens’ who have taken the responsibility to revive the dead plants transplanted by the TMC have started carrying out vigilance in and around the neighbourhood to prevent the indiscriminate dumping.

Over the past two to three weeks, these residents have been noticing a steady rise in the quantum of debris being dumped on the periphery of Yeoor forest range and footpath, along the road to Neelkanth Greens from Happy Valley circle. While the issue began with a small portion of soil, rocks and concrete blocks being dumped on a portion of the footpath, the approximately 10-ft high pile of construction waste now stretches to over 200 to 300m along the newly constructed footpath and forest zone.

“We had started an initiative to protect the new neem saplings that were planted by the TMC. That was when we started observing the rise in this illegal activity here. Over the past 20 days, the debris has multiplied and now occupies not only a large chunk of the forest land, but also blocks the new footpath,” said Sashikumar Nair, a resident.

“This is damaging the newly-constructed footpaths and the manholes of drains. It has also damaged the recently-planted neem trees that we have been taking care of,” said another Hillgarden society resident.

The citizens approached the government for help and are even planning to step up vigilance in the area.

“As this activity seems to be taking place in the night, we have not been able to figure out who the culprit are. We have, however, written to the TMC and forest department to look into it. We visit the area every day to tend to the plants and are on a constant lookout for the wrongdoers. However, we will be holding a meeting on Sunday to plan and step up vigilance,” Nair said.

Speaking about the issue, a forest official from Yeoor, said, “We have received a letter from residents and will be conducting a recce of the area before preparing a report. As the Yeoor range forest officer was recently transferred, we are awaiting for the new RFO who will take the necessary actions.”

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