Mumbai: Landfill in Uran killing mangroves, activists write to green body

Updated: 16 November, 2020 08:07 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Environmentalists claim trucks have been dumping debris at a spot near NH 348, demand that practice be stopped and green patch restored at the earliest

Illegal landfilling at the Uran site near NH 348
Illegal landfilling at the Uran site near NH 348

Acting against alleged landfilling in mangroves and wetlands of Uran, environment activists have sent an email complaining to the High Court-appointed Mangrove Protection and Conservation Committee (MPCC). The complainants have claimed that land mafia has grabbed 20 acres of eco-sensitive area.

The complaint claims that truck drivers ran away when questioned by residents. Nandkumar Pawar, head, Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, said, "This is obviously yet another illegal landfill, apparently for an infrastructure project."

Activists claim a modus operandi where project proponents employ local contractors to conduct landfilling and destroy mangroves and act innocent when questioned.

"Authorities must immediately stop the landfilling which is being done by taking advantage of the Diwali holiday period," said B N Kumar, director, NatConnect Foundation. "The mangrove committee must restore the mangrove zone by stopping the landfilling and removing the debris," Kumar said.

The site where the new destruction is taking place is close to a previous site of destruction, along the NH 348 which is being expanded by the NHAI (National Highways Authority of India). The expansion has blocked the tidal water flow to 5,000 mangroves.

Environmentalists also claimed that a spot inspection by revenue and forest officials confirmed the destruction of mangroves but no action was taken.

The complaint, also marked to the chief minister, environment minister and the Raigad district collector, recalls an incident at a larger scale when mangroves were destroyed at Pagote and Bhendkhal during the Lok Sabha poll last year.

The central problem

Activists say the problem lies in the fact that mangroves are still under CIDCO's control, which is yet to hand them over to the Forest Department, despite orders from the state government.

"It is really tragic that CIDCO has been turning a blind eye to the unchecked landfill apparently to suit its requirement of showing the areas as dry spots for construction," Pawar said.

Kumar said that they are not against infrastructure development that helps the socio-economic development of the backward area.

"But development need not lead to environmental destruction which has already caused problems as several villages suffered due to unseasonal floods last year," he pointed out.

"The unplanned and reckless landfilling is blocking the free flow of tidal water which is finding its own course in the low-lying villages," Kumar added.

5k
No. of mangroves affected due to lack of water

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First Published: 16 November, 2020 08:06 IST

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