Navi Mumbai violating HC order on protecting wetlands: NGO

Wetland under attack:A truck dumps debris in Nerul; the temporary road that Vanashakti claims is illegal.— Sumesh Rajan  

Environmental NGO Vanashakti has written to top officials in the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), demanding action against illegal dumping of debris in a water body in Nerul. A senior NGO official said Vanashakti is considering moving the Bombay High Court if the concerned officials fail to act.

Vanashakti, which works for forest, mangrove and wetland protection and conducts scientific investigations into local environmental degradation, says NMMC officials are not acting against clandestine dumping of debris in the wetlands. The NGO said the civic body is violating an HC order to protect wetlands and ensure their restoration wherever damaged.

Taking advantage of a string of holidays in mid-August, when civic officials are not around to keep a check, miscreants managed to to dump tonnes of construction debris in a water body between the mangroves and Palm Beach Road, near TS Chanakya in Sector 34, Nerul.

The driver of a truck emptying debris in the area claimed he was working for a contractor who had necessary permissions from the NMMC to construct a temporary road for villagers to access the Bamandev temple in the creek area. However, NMMC officials said the contractor had been given permission to dispose of debris only if it doesn’t damage mangroves. On September 8, workers were seen laying stones and gravel over the levelled debris to construct a road.

After a visit to the site, Stalin D., director (Projects) at Vanashakti claimed the temporary road is illegal. He said he has written to the Konkan Divisional Commissioner, NMMC Commissioner, Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority, the Mangrove Cell, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, State Environment Department Secretary and others, drawing their attention to the construction of the illegal road.

Mr. Stalin said, “This illegal road is being extended illegally. It runs parallel to a lake that sees thousands of flamingos visiting it every year. There is a structure coming up and a board states that the site is for a temple. This is nothing but a clear attempt to encroach and construct in CRZ areas, and eventually reclaim the lake. We had complained about the attempt to fill up the lake, after which the reclamation stopped. Now, taking advantage of the monsoon vegetation that hides the site from Palm Beach Road, this activity has resumed.”

The letter by Mr. Stalin asks authorities to remove the debris and act against the culprits. It also asks that the road running behind TS Chanakya be barricaded, as it is being used to access untouched areas.

Mr. Stalin said if the concerned authorities fail to act against the culprits, he will approach the HC against top civic officials including NMMC chief Tukaram Mundhe. Despite several attempts, Mr. Mundhe remained unavailable for comment.

The writer is a freelance journalist

Vanashakti has asked authorities to remove debris from the lake in Nerul and act against the culprits

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 7:56:06 PM |

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