A day after HT reported that worn-out vehicles and debris were dumped at a wetland in Mahim, revenue and circle officers who surveyed the area said show-cause notices will be sent to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the private contractor and the state mangrove cell.
“After visiting the site mentioned by Hindustan Times, we observed debris and broken cars dumped in the area,” said Vinayak Nikam, circle officer. “We drafted a panchnama, a copy of which was submitted to the Mumbai suburban collector’s office and local revenue officials,” he added.
“While surveying the area, the contractor submitted a document signed by forest officers from the mangrove cell permitting desilting. We will rectify this on receiving individual responses,” said the official.
However, state mangrove cell officials denied permitting the desilting.
Noting the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Bombay Environment Action Group — a city-based NGO — in 2005, the Bombay high court banned the destruction of mangroves and construction within 50 metres of them.
After Vanashakti filed another PIL, the HC banned all reclamation and construction on wetlands in 2014.
Officials from the civic body’s Storm Water Drain (SWD) department said no mangrove trees had been harmed.
“We remove garbage using machines to allow the smooth flow of sewage water. Not a single mangrove tree was touched during the work. However, it is the ward’s responsibility to remove debris from the site,” said Laxman Vhatkar, chief engineer, SWD.
The HT report on July 6 stated that the local ward office was unaware of the issue.
Environmentalists said this was a classic case of wetland destruction that occurs when governing bodies do not know what each department is doing.
“Such instances occur when authorities are unaware of what is happening on the ground. As an outcome, mangroves and wetlands are destroyed by unidentified people,” said Stalin Dayanand, project director, Vanashakti.
The incident came to light two days after the Bombay high court said the Maharashtra government wanted to destroy wetlands under the garb of development.
The HC expressed anguish over the government’s plea seeking modification of its 2014 order.