<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the forest department have re-forested the land at Dasturi Naka in Matheran, an eco sensitive zone, where hundreds of trees died due to highly nitrogenous dung from illegally stabled horses, the issue is far from being resolved. Horse owners are now suspected to having moved deeper into the forests.Dasturi Naka had lost most of its green cover, as the soil quality was affected due to horse dung and acidic urine from horses that were illegally stabled under trees.With the area now off-limits for stabling horses, the equines are parked in the deeper parts of Matheran’s forest, said Manoj Khedkar, former councillor. Loss of Matheran’s green cover can be bad news, as the entire Navi Mumbai region depends for its drinking water.The Bombay Environmental Action Group that worked on the re-planting and barricading of the Naka said the Joint Forest Management (JFM) needs to be strengthened for a permanent solution.While only about 460 horses have license to operate, over 1,000 horses ply in peak season. “Most of them are brought from from Neral and Jummapatti. Handlers tie horses to trees that shrivel due to the dung and acidic urine, thus leaving a trail of dead trees,” a local said. In the past, horses brought from outside would be taken back at night.Stables in areas like Indira Nagar and Valmiki Nagar being converted into lodging, as it is more profitable, have compounded the problem. Councillor Prasad Sawant said, “We need to create a facility for horses to be stabled.”Divisional Forest Officer Alibaug Jayoti Banerjee said, “Now that Dasturi Naka has been saved, the department is working on a solution with major stake holders.” In the meanwhile, the officials have been carrying out surprise raids to reduce illegal stabling.

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Horse manure still a threat to Matheran trees