The civic body has asked the salt commissioner to break bunds that are blocking the flow of seawater to saltpan lands in Kanjurmarg and Bhandup.
In his letter, Ramakant Biradar, assistant municipal commissioner of S-ward, has pointed out that grass cultivators were erecting bunds and using sewage water to grow grass. “As you (salt commissioner) are the owner of the grassland, you are requested to take serious action against grass cultivators, break the bunds and keep the nullahs flowing,” the letter stated.
In May, Hindustan Times had reported that that large tracts of the eight kilometre saltpan land between Vikhroli and Mulund near the eastern express highway had grass growing in sewage water. These saltpan lands are owned by the central government and were leased out to private parties to manufacture salt.
Vanashakti, a non-government organisation (NGO), had spotted six locations from where toxic, untreated sewage and municipal drainage water entered the saltpans, polluting ground water and soil that has resulted in the growth of grass. The NGO also found workers constructing bunds that prevent seawater intrusion leading to the destruction of mangroves surrounding the saltpan land.
Saltpans, which act as sponges during the rain and prevent floods, are earmarked as a ‘no development zone’. “The activity of growing grass on salt lands is illegal. The grass is also a breeding ground for mosquitoes which poses a serious health risk to the residents of the nighbouring areas,” said Stalin D of Vanashakti.
The salt department is yet to initiate action. “Though the matter is sub judice, we have taken cognizance of the letter and will soon visit the site,” said an official from the salt department, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to the media.