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Kanjur dumping ground: BMC hits legal wall

Ground of contention:The Kanjur facility houses a bio-plant, and the Municipal Solid Waste Rules mandate that no such plant may be set up without the boundary wall being in place. —photo: Mukesh Trivedi

Ground of contention:The Kanjur facility houses a bio-plant, and the Municipal Solid Waste Rules mandate that no such plant may be set up without the boundary wall being in place. —photo: Mukesh Trivedi  

After the Deonar dumping ground, it is the turn of its sister facility at Kanjurmarg to face the heat over an illegal compound wall.

During a hearing on Wednesday, the Bombay High Court set April 20 as the deadline for the BMC to submit a post facto Coastal Regulation Zone clearance, failing which the compound wall could be demolished.

Confirming this, a senior civic official, who wished not to be named, told The Hindu that the HC has categorically asked the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) to take a decision on the Kanjur facility’s boundary wall, which was built without obtaining the MCZMA’s permission. “However, nowhere it is stipulated that this bars the agency from seeking permission for the same post facto. After all, the Kanjur facility houses a bio-plant, and the Municipal Solid Waste Rules of 2000 mandate that no such plant may be set up without the boundary wall being in place. A clearance from the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests (MoEF) may be sought for the wall.”

Another senior civic official said BMC chief Ajoy Mehta had apprised Union Minister for State for Environment Prakash Javadekar of the issues faced by the Kanjur ground, during a meeting to seek help for resolving problems at the Deonar ground. “The minister had assured Mr Mehta that he would look into the matter. We are counting on him.”

The BMC will now have to obtain the MoEF clearance before April 20, when the matter comes up for hearing in the High Court. If the MCZMA declines to sanction the boundary wall, the BMC hopes to seek more time from the court to obtain a sanction from the Centre.

The official said the BMC has made a presentation before the State government as well and has sought permission from the additional chief secretary’s office for expanding the Kanjurmarg facility’s usable space. “We have got only 65 hectares of the 141 hectares allocated for use as a dumping ground. We also need land to set up the processing unit,” he said.

The legal battle over the boundary wall had reached the Supreme Court after activists insisted there was no provision in the CRZ notification of 2011 to grant post facto clearance. The BMC had also requested the MCZMA for clearance, saying the wall is necessary to prevent encroachments and outward seepage that could adversely impact marine life. The BMC had also cited the environment impact assessment report submitted to the MoEF, which emphasises the need to strengthen peripheral bunds and construct a road on the dumping ground.

According to a senior official attached to the BMC law department, the Kanjur facility processes 3,000 metric tonnes (MT) of garbage, and the processing plant could increase capacity by 1,000 MT by December 2016. He said the wall was constructed with the JNNURM funds, and more land is not available in the city for a dumping ground. “The Gorai, Chincholi and Dharavi dumps have been shut. Even the existing Deonar facility is reaching the end of its tenure.”

But, Stalin Dayanand, director, NGO Vanashakti, refuted the BMC arguments. “The CRZ rules have no provision for a compound wall in coastal zones. Only barbed wire fencing is permissible so as not to obstruct the inbound seawater flow crucial to the sustenance of mangroves. The wall at Kanjurmarg was constructed in violation of the CRZ laws by the BMC, and if it is accorded sanction, all persons having coastal property will start constructing walls.”

“The CRZ laws are based on the environment and forests Act under which there is no provision for according sanction, post facto. Hence the Kanjur dumping ground boundary wall cannot be regularised.”

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 1:24:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/kanjur-dumping-ground-bmc-hits-legal-wall/article8485376.ece

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