Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials destroyed an illegal road created on reclaimed mangroves in Dahisar (East) and cleared about 25 private buses parked there on Thursday. A trench was dug across the road to cut off access to the “illegal parking lot”, said officials.
“After complaints from residents, we removed the buses. The private bus company has also given us in writing that the area will not be used for parking again,” said a senior official from R (North) ward, BMC.
On Wednesday night, residents from Dahisar along with the local corporator found buses in the mangroves. “Private buses were being parked at the site since January and by the last week of April, the number had increased to 25. Duty officers and senior police personnel need to be held accountable and penalised for ignoring such violations,” said Harish Pandey, secretary, New Link Road Residents’ Forum.
“The land owner and the private bus company had cleared thick mangroves, dumped debris and converted the site into a parking lot. They constructed a borewell and set up street lights,” said Shiv Sena corporator from Dahisar Sheetal Mhatre, who alleged when the police reached the spot on Wednesday, they asked the residents to leave the area rather than taking action against the land owner or the bus company.
The police said they were investigating the case. “I have asked for a report on the allegations from my officials. If the allegations are true, we will take action. We are also deputing more officials in wetland areas to keep a check on violations,” said M Ramkumar, deputy commissioner of police, zone 12.
February 5, 2016: 300 buses from Dahisar (West) wetlands removed
After nearly three years of inaction regarding wetland destruction, more than 300 buses parked in reclaimed wetlands along Link Road, Dahisar (West) were removed by joint action undertaken by the civic body and district collector.
In 2013, close to the slum Ganpat Patil Nagar at Dahisar Link Road, that is settled on a CRZ area, the wetland abutting the road had been reclaimed and converted into a parking lot for private tourist vehicles. The New Link Road Residents’ Forum (NLRRF) had filed a complaint with the civic body, revenue department and the police about the 17-acre land being reclaimed in Dahisar after destroying mangroves.
Court orders action
On January 29 this year, the Bombay High Court ordered the city civil court to take action regarding 54 cases across the city where wetlands had been destroyed due to construction activities. A bench of Justices Justices V M Kanade and Revati Mohite Dere had observed, “Wetlands have to be strictly protected” and ordered that the lower court needed to decide the pending cases within four weeks.
In 2005, acting on a public-interest-litigation (PIL) filed by Bombay Environment Action Group (BEAG) the Bombay High Court (HC) ruled that all construction, garbage and debris dumping must be stopped immediately. In 2014, NGO Vanashakti filed another PIL on protection of wetlands, after which the HC banned all reclamation and construction on wetlands.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Wetlands stabilise the coastline, control erosion and provide habitat for plant and animal species, prevent floods and purify groundwater. The also regulate climate change by storing carbon. Besides, they also contribute to the country’s economy by providing fishery resources, timber, wildlife resources, medicines and agricultural products.