Saving the mangroves that have been affected by the oil sludge at Mahul village is going to be an uphill task, as the waste may have already penetrated the plants’ roots.
Officials from the state forest department’s mangrove cell said that if the sludge has spread uniformly across the mangrove swamp, mopping it up will not help the vegetation recover.
“The extent of the damage will have to be thoroughly investigated. Only once we analyse the amount of damage caused can we decide on whether cleaning the entire place will save the affected area or not,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forests, mangrove cell.
Hindustan Times had, on Monday, reported how a part of mangroves in Mahul village had been damaged owing to illegal dumping of oil sludge and debris. The state forest department’s mangrove cell, which conducted a preliminary inspection on Friday, is planning to send the sludge samples for chemical analysis. The mangrove cell has also filed a preliminary offence report against unidentified persons for dumping debris in the Mahul creek.
“The oil sludge collected will be sent for chemical analysis to gauge the damage it has caused to the mangroves. If the sludge has reached the mangroves’ roots, cleaning up will not save the surrounding trees. We will have to then change the top-soil layer,” added Vasudevan.
Since the mangrove cell mostly looks at only saving mangroves in and around Mumbai metropolitan region, it is the territorial wing of the forest department who is investigating this illegal dumping of waste.
“Our foresters and guards are going to inspect the affected area on Wednesday and send a report to the Mumbai range office. We are also trying to probe who is responsible for dumping the sludge on the mangroves,” said Anil Toradmal, range forest officer, Mumbai.
Rajesh Koli (name changed on request), a resident of Mahul village, said, “The dumping has stopped since Friday.”