BJP MLA from Mira-Bhayander Narendra Mehta’s younger brother Vinod, and brother-in-law Rajnikant Singh were booked by the Mira Road police on Monday for destroying mangroves and dumping debris illegally on these lands.
According to the Mira Road police, two dumper trucks were seized from the site after local activist Dhiraj Parab filed complaints with the Thane collector that fresh debris was being dumped on a 3-acre mangrove patch at Kanakia Nagar, Mira Road.
“Large patches of mangroves have vanished and debris is being dumped on the saltpans to enable construction on them. Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) had given a clearance to Mehta’s relatives construct a club at the site,” said Parab, who had filed a public interest litigation in the matter at the Bombay high court. “It’s a blatant disregard for protection of the environment. Similar FIRs were filed against Vinod in 2010 and 2015, but no FIRs filed.”
The police also booked five other people, associated with the accused and two dumper drivers in the same case. “After observing a violation, we informed the police to seize the dumpers, which were pushed for landfill. All the accused were booked under sections 15 and 19 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986,” said Thane tehsildar K Badane.
Officials from the Mira Road police station said only drivers of the dumper trucks had been arrested and released on bail. “We are still investigating the details of the case and our officers are checking whether the land belongs to Vinod Mehta. We will take action if there is a violation,” said a senior police official.
Meanwhile, Narendra Mehta refuted all allegations levied against his relatives and MBMC had given clearances for construction. “There is a building constructed in that area, so there is no question of debris dumping. My relatives are being falsely maligned as both my brother and brother-in-law have resigned from the company, so they cannot be held responsible,” he said adding the violation happened on the plot that does not belong to his family.
Noting the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Bombay Environment Action Group — an NGO in Mumbai — in 2005, the Bombay High Court (HC) banned the destruction of state-wide mangroves and construction within 50m of them. After Vanashakti filed another PIL, the HC banned all reclamation and construction on wetlands in 2014