The state environment department has found that the civic body violated environment laws by reclaiming wetlands inside the Kanjurmarg dumping ground, thus blocking tidal movement and damaging the surrounding mangroves.
A three-member sub-committee of the Maharashta Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) noted these violations during an inspection last week, prompted by allegations by the NGO Vanashakti, about the BMC illegally reclaiming the wetlands.
State environment secretary Valsa Nair Singh, on receiving the report, wrote to BMC chief Sitaram Kunte on May 4 asking him to stop the reclamation and explain their stand. Incidentally, the BMC has not been dumping at Kanjurmarg for a few weeks.
The NGO had alleged that mangroves inside the 141-hectare landfill, but outside the 65 hectares granted to the BMC for dumping, were being reclaimed illegally in coastal regulation zone-1. This was damaging the mangroves and the creek ecosystem.
“We will carry out another inspection to gauge the extent of the damage,” said Singh.
BMC officials denied the findings. “We have not reclaimed anything illegally. I can’t comment on the letter as I have not read it yet,” said Prakash Patil, deputy municipal commissioner, solid waste department. Kunte was unavailable for comment.
Vanshakti activists demanded an explanation. “They [BMC] should restore the wetlands to its original state and should be penalised,” said Stalin D, director (projects), Vanashakti.