Debris dumping at wetland: Collector directs salt department to approach police in Wadala case
Summary.Stalin D, a member of the Bombay high court-appointed wetland panel, had filed the complaint on August 21, a day after he caught the violators dumping debris on the 80-acre wetland.Updated: Aug 27, 2019, 11:23 IST
Less than a week after HT reported on the authorities’ inaction on a complaint of debris dumping at a Wadala wetland, the city district administration on Monday directed the salt department to work with the police to register a case.
Stalin D, a member of the Bombay high court-appointed wetland panel, had filed the complaint on August 21, a day after he caught the violators dumping debris on the 80-acre wetland.
Mumbai city collector Shivaji Jondhale, taking cognisance of the report, issued a letter to the salt commissioner on Saturday, asking the department to work with the police to register a case.
“As the land belongs to the salt department and not this office, we have informed them [deputy salt commissioner] about wetland destruction at the site and asked for a report at the earliest on action taken,” said Jondhale. “This is a serious offence highlighted by the wetland panel member and the local police have also been directed to keep strict vigil to ensure no illegal work continues.”
Located 500m from Bhakti Park Monorail station along the eastern freeway, the area is identified under the Maharashtra National Wetland Atlas, 2011, and is home to a 10 acre water body. Apart from the debris dumping, the area has been encroached on by slums, and an illegal road constructed through the wetland.
Last Wednesday, Stalin filed a complaint with the state bodies, highlighting that he “failed to stop the destruction despite risking personal safety but district authorities did not respond”. While the forest department and local police arrived at the spot and detained an excavator machine driver and contractor, since no officials from the district administration were present, a first information report (FIR) could not be filed.
“It is strange that the district collector has directed the salt department to ensure an FIR is filed given that the department is not empowered under the Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1986. We have highlighted this to the state,” said Stalin. Only the district administration and revenue department are empowered under the EPA to approach the police to file an FIR regarding environmental violations on land not belonging to the forest department. Another site inspection with civic officials has been planned on Tuesday to assess the amount of damage done to the wetland area.
“When it suits the government, electricity, water connections and voter cards are all provided to these encroachments, but when violations are pointed out, they decide to take a step back,” added Stalin.
An official from the salt department confirmed that no permissions were issued to reclaim the wetland. “The deputy salt commissioner C Raghu is currently on leave. When he is back next week, appropriate directions for action will be issued,” he said.