Greens unhappy experts from environment ministry inspected only two of five river sites claiming problems were identical
Last week's visit by experts from the Ministry of Environment and Forest's (MoEF) who were to inspect the environmental damages to the rivers in the city, has not assuaged the concerns of Baner Area Sabha (BAS) activists and members of NGO Jal Biradari.
Mission incomplete: City activists and MoEF experts who had visited the Dev Nadi last week. Pic/Ishan Ghosh
They said the officials returned to Delhi without visiting three main disputed spots at Mula and Mutha rivers. As per the Bombay High court directive, the MoEF team of experts was assigned to inspect the damages caused by channelisation of rivers.
Eco-activists allege the MoEF officials were supposed to visit one spot at Wadgaon Sheri at Mutha and two other spots at Mula River in Kharadi village, where the civic body had made ad-hoc constructions near the rivers and the adjoining nullas.
"Despite the court's order, MoEF experts did not visit these spots where the PMC has channelised the rivers and violated the high court's directive of stalling all constructions on rivers and nullas in the city. Before the final hearing in the high court, we are expecting one more visit by the MoEF team," said Vaibhav Gandhi, a nature lover.
Activists said the team comprising Dr Ajay Mehrotra, director (Bhopal) MoEF, Dr Neeraj Sharma, senior officer from Central Institute of Road Research, and Dr Apurv Gupta, ex-officer from National Environmental Engineering and Research Institute, visited only Dev Nadi at Rohan Leher Complex and Mutha River at Viththal Wadi. They maintained that there was no need to visit the other spots as they believed that the problems were identical in all cases.
Environmentalists further pointed out that PMC's cement channels had channelised the width of the rivers, impeding its natural flow and damaging biodiversity. They said the wetland near Dev Nadi was drying up. Geologist Dr S K Wadagbalkar said the rivers in the city flow through the natural lava path.
"The seepage through these lava paths aid in increasing ground water levels, and making boundaries with cement channels has only restricted and destroyed its natural flow," said Wadagbalkar. He also highlighted the problems of population growth, poor urban management, congestion and random concretisation in green belt zones.
The other side Dr Gupta, from MoEF team said: "We have considered the views of environmentalists and PMC officials and will prepare the report on the basis of our observation and arguments on the rivers, this will be tabled before the high court soon." The high court will give its next verdict on November 30.