Mangrove cell finds wall being built inside Mithi river

Mar 28, 2018, 10:53 IST | Laxman Singh

In January, the Mangrove Cell team had visited the site to check the destruction or blockage of Mithi River due to the ongoing work near Dharavi Junction.

The wall being built in the river, dangerously narrowing its width
The wall being built in the river, dangerously narrowing its width

The Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Cell has confirmed that the construction of a concrete wall (retaining wall) for the 33.2 km Metro-3 (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) at Dharavi has altered Mithi River's natural flow. In January, the Mangrove Cell team had visited the site to check the destruction or blockage of Mithi River due to the ongoing work near Dharavi Junction.

mid-day, on December 22, had reported about the illegal reclamation of the river by the contractor appointed by Mumbai Metro Corporation Limited (MMRCL), narrowing its width from 25 metres to 15 metres.

On March 16, in reply to a complaint filed by green activist Zoru Bhathena against the wall, the Mangrove Cell stated it had inspected the site and found the concrete wall.

The Mangrove Cell letter to Bhathena further states that when asked about who gave them permission, the staff of the contractor present at the site said they had all permissions including those from the Forest and Environment Ministry.

Bhathena rubbishes the claims. "The project has permission to cut mangroves from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Regulation Authority (MCZMA) and the high court. But, MCZMA permission was given on condition that they would not dump any debris into Mithi. But, here, the contractor is constructing a wall inside the river and narrowing its width. Why don't they show what permissions they have for this particular work."

He said, "If it is legal then the authority should show us the permissions. They are showing all kinds of permissions except those for reclamation and building a wall. MCZMA in its permission had clearly told them not to dump any muck in the CRZ." The MCZMA at its 114th meeting, on November 2, 2016, clearly stated that mangrove patches should not be disturbed during the construction and operation phase, and that no muck should be dumped in the CRZ area. One of the points mentioned at the meeting was that MMRCL should ensure the muck was transported from the site within 74 hours. The Mangrove Cell team had also taken statements from the contractor's staff that there was no illegal work going on.

A spokesperson from MMRC said, "We, at MMRC, would like to highlight that we have all the required permissions for carrying out our construction activity. Being a government organisation we operate in a transparent and legally acceptable manner," said a spokesperson from MMRC.

Divisional forest officer (DFO) Malind Panditrao from the Mangroves Cell was unavailable for comment despite several attempts.

Also read: Mithi River choked due to Metro III: Will Mumbai face massive floods in 2018?

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