The state environment department has asked the state pollution control board to carry out an inspection at the Sewri Bay, the site where more than 30 acres of fullly grown mangroves lie dead and damaged.
“I have asked for a site visit report before deciding on a course of action,” said Valsa Nair Singh, state environment secretary, on Tuesday, a day after the HT report on the destruction of mangroves.
Environmentalists said damage to the wetlands and mangroves is likely to be the result of pollution caused by the coking coal stored a few metres from the site, on land that belongs to the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT). In 1996, the port trust along with the Bombay Natural History Society had developed the site as a Sewri Mangrove Park.
Coking coal, a soft, bituminous coal, is heated to produce coke — a hard, porous material — used in blast furnaces to extract iron from ore and for steel-making.
Stalin D, project head of non-government organisation Vanashakti, had written to the state government stating, “The pollution and damage is spreading to other areas and if urgent steps are not taken, this would completely destroy the wetlands and the habitat for flamingos, migratory and resident birds of Sewri Bay. Please take urgent steps to revive the wetlands and initiate strong action against all those responsible for this environmental disaster.”
Destruction of mangroves violates a Bombay high court order, which states that regardless of land ownership, debris dumping within 50 metres of mangroves is prohibited.