MUMBAI: More than two lakh trees have been illegally chopped down in Maharashtra in the last four years and over 48,000 complaints have been lodged in this regard in various parts of the state, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray informed the state legislative Council on Wednesday.
The chief minister was responding to a starred question raised by Shiv Sena legislator Maneesha Kayande.
Thackeray in his written reply said, "As many as 2,84,171 trees were illegally chopped down in the last four years. The value is estimated to be Rs 21.95 crore."
"At least 48,893 criminal cases have been filed during this period, of which 1,435 are registered as serious offences. The remaining cases have been categorised as mild offences and many have been settled after negotiations between officials and accused persons," the chief minister said.
In the four-year period, 991 vehicles were allegedly used for illegal felling and transportation of trees, he said.
Thackeray holds the charge of the forest department, after his cabinet colleague Sanjay Rathod resigned from the post in March 2021.
In a written reply to another starred question by Kayande, Thackeray said, "Mumbai suburban district has lost 1.08 sq km of mangrove area between 2021 and 2019. The figure is reported in the recently published India State Forest Report 2021." There have been some attempts for afforestation on the lost area.
The area is 1,911.33 hectares, he said. As many as 8,000 illegal constructions have been razed by the state mangrove cell as well, the chief minister added.