Even as the world celebrated World Wetlands Day on Monday, destruction of the coastal ecosystem continues in and around Mumbai. This almost a year after the Bombay high court (HC) ordered an interim ban on construction and reclamation of wetlands.
Every year, February 2 is observed as World Wetlands Day, to mark the adoption of the Ramsar Convention 1971, which is an intergovernmental treaty providing the framework for national action and international cooperation for wetland conservation in India.
This time around, it’s along the right side of the Kasheli creek bridge on the Thane-Bhiwandi highway where mangroves have been chopped and wetland reclaimed by dumping debris.
“Some local sand miners from Balkum village are reclaiming the wetland to start a sand storage facility,” said Nandakumar Pawar of non-government organisation Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishthan, which has written to the state mangrove cell.
With sand mining at the Kasheli creek, wetlands have been reclaimed over the years to create pathways for trucks that ply sand extracted from the creek.
“A team of officials will soon visit the site,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forests (mangrove cell).
Following a public interest litigation by non-government organisation Vanashakti, the Bombay high court in March last year passed an interim order banning reclamation of wetlands across the state.
Activists, however, claim the ban remains only on paper. “The statutory agencies have completely neglected their promise to the high court. All the sites that were inspected, and a copy of the report submitted to the high court, are being destroyed brazenly,” said Stalin D of Vanashakti.