Dumping of debris at Sanjay Gandhi National Park border goes unchecked | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Dumping of debris at Sanjay Gandhi National Park border goes unchecked

May 03, 2024 09:26 AM IST

Civic officials claimed the dumping was stopped immediately after they received the complaint, but residents claimed it was continuing unabated

Mumbai: Concerned about the dumping of debris on a massive scale at the border of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) at Hanuman Tekdi, Kajupada in Dahisar, the Borivali Residents Association complained to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) last week. Civic officials claimed the dumping was stopped immediately after they received the complaint, but residents claimed it was continuing unabated, transforming the area into a mountain of debris and crushing innumerable trees beneath it.

Mumbai, India - May 2, 2024: Illegal duming of debris at the boundary of Borivali National park near Hanuman Tekdi in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, May 2, 2024. (Photo by Satish Bate/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)
Mumbai, India - May 2, 2024: Illegal duming of debris at the boundary of Borivali National park near Hanuman Tekdi in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, May 2, 2024. (Photo by Satish Bate/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

“I first noticed the dumping at the start of 2023, during my morning walks,” said Kartik Prajapati, a resident of the area. The dumping remained slow till December 2023, after which it picked up pace, he noted.

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“When I go there now and watch the spot from Trimandir (a local temple) for around half an hour, I see 10-12 trucks dumping debris. Imagine how many trucks come over the entire day,” said Prajapati, estimating the number at over 100.

Mournful about the destruction of the environment and the death of hundreds of trees beneath the dumped debris, he said, “The sights from the temple are stunning. There is endless greenery, trees and cliffs with hills in the backdrop. During the monsoon, you can see a 100ft waterfall from the cliffs which fill up the lake below; deer and different species of birds come to drink out of the lake. It’s a secret spot in the city.”

Prajapati said earlier, the spot was occupied by a quarry till it was shut down in response to a Bombay high court order in 1997. Trees sprang up along the slope thereafter, which have been crushed and suffocated under the debris in recent months. “As per the Maharashtra Trees Act, 1975, killing trees by any means is a criminal offence. It doesn’t matter who the land belongs to,” said Prajapati.

Sneha, another resident who visits the spot frequently on her walks, also acknowledged indiscriminate dumping.

“On one hand, we talk about sustainability, but on the other, our previous green environment is being destroyed. SGNP comprises the lungs of our city, and this is what is being done here,” she said.

In April 2023, concerned residents approached environmentalist Stalin D from Vanashakti for help.

“I immediately complained to the chief conservator of forests and the director of SGNP, but the response I got was absurd,” said Stalin. The authorities, he said, cited the minutes of a February 2018 meeting of the SGNP Eco Sensitive Zone Committee, which approved plans of refilling the stone quarry with stone and soil to facilitate the construction of a Jain temple.

“This is not an approved spot for dumping debris,” fumed Stalin. “Why aren’t the SGNP authorities taking any action to protect their forest area? Why are they letting the indiscriminate destruction of forest lands,” he asked.

Prajapati further interjected, saying the material being dumped was not soil and stone, but a mixture of asbestos, cement, concrete, plastic, and other material from demolished buildings. “The Jain temple was inaugurated in 2021, so what’s the need for continuing with dumping debris,” he wondered.

Last week, the residents also communicated their concerns to the BMC in a letter. While they received no response from the civic body, Nainish Vengurlekar, assistant commissioner of R North ward, claimed they had stopped dumping debris at the site soon after receiving the complaint. But residents countered this, saying dumping was going on unabated from 6am till sunset.

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