Despite claims from the civic body that it protects mangroves, it has emerged that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been dumping debris in mangrove-rich land near its Kanjurmarg landfill site.
The BMC has been saying that the site has been demarcated for land filling and hence the mangroves had remained untouched. However, a Right to Information query by activist Anwar Shaikh has revealed that the BMC is yet to separate the plot for the landfill site from the mangroves around it. Dumping debris on the mangroves continues, Shaikh said.
Suburban collector Nirmalkumar Deshmukh has sent a stern letter to BMC, instructing it to demarcate the land for land filling in the next 10 days.
Revenue officials in the collectorate measure the land for any use after the user pays it mandatory charges.
Deshmukh’s letter dated December 10, a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times, says that BMC did not pay his office the mandatory fees for demarcating the land. “You [the BMC] have, on your own accord, marked the boundaries and started work. We have received serious complaints about this,” his letter said.
Deshmukh told the Hindustan Times: “We have found that the BMC has started work without demarcating the land and hence, have instructed them to do so within 10 days. We are awaiting their response.”
Vikhroli-based Shaikh, who has taken on the BMC for illegally dumping debris on mangroves, said: “We feel vindicated because the collector has said what we have been saying for a long time. The BMC has been allowing contractors to extend the yard. Contractors dump construction debris and destroy the mangroves.”
The BMC dismissed the collector’s charge. “We have already demarcated the land. We haven’t touched the 20.76 hectares of mangroves within the plot. We are filling the remaining plot to make it ready to handle waste soon,” said BP Patil, chief engineer, solid waste management.
The BMC had filed an affidavit in told the Bombay High Court that the 141-hectare Kanjurmarg land filling site was surrounded by mangroves.
“The fact that the BMC hasn’t demarcated the area and continues dumping, proves it is killing the mangroves around the site, according to their affidavit,” Shaikh said.