The oil sludge dumping at Mahul is the latest threat to the mangroves spread over 40 hectares there, which are already being choked by illegal dumping of vast quantities of construction debris.
The state forest department’s mangrove cell has, in fact, filed a preliminary offence report against unidentified people there after one of its officers on January 21 spotted trucks dumping debris. The unidentified persons fled but they had already dumped a huge mound of debris in the mangroves. The debris was dumped not too far from the area where oil sludge was found over the past week.
The mangrove cell’s report said: “A mound of debris 50 feet in height and 35 feet in width had been dumped near the creek and mangroves. Around 30-35 trucks must have been used to dump this debris near the mangroves.”
Seema Adgaonkar, the officer who spotted the trucks while she as on a recce of the area to take up afforestation, said: “A lot of mangrove trees seem to have been damaged by this dumping. The debris have been dumped right in front of the forest department’s board and we are investigating the matter.”
According to locals, a lot of the debris is slipping into the creek nearby. “These people who have been dumping are also cutting other trees and have damaged a lot of mangrove trees by dumping right on to the roots. The debris are dumped late in the night,” said Vimal Koli (name changed), a local from Mahul village.
The dumpers have been using the SRA complex built by DB Realty to approach the protected mangroves as there is no other approach road. HT asked the company if its employees were aware of the illegal dumping. Pankaj Rajmachikar, group legal head, DB Realty, said: “We have already handed over the project to the civic body in March last year and hence we are not responsible for the site. The principal roads passing through the site are public roads and hence the civic body is responsible for who passes through. We are not aware of any dumping of oil sludge anywhere. We are only completing the school building and the security is for that purpose.”
According to the security guards mentioned by the company, the dumpers broke open the gate located on the boundary of the complex. “To tell you frankly, we were scared of personally stopping these people involved in dumping fearing for our lives. They have been dumping with impunity and they have even broken down pillars beyond which the mangroves are located,” said a security guard requesting anonymity.