Green Tribunal orders panel to execute clearing of Aarey debris | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Green Tribunal orders panel to execute clearing of Aarey debris

Apr 18, 2024 09:05 AM IST

This latest development comes after a previous order, dated July 7, 2023, directed the BMC to clear the debris in Aarey, but was not followed through

After months of the BMC and Aarey Milk Colony passing the responsibility for clearing the debris dumped in Aarey along the banks of the Mithi River onto each other, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday ordered the constitution of a committee to decide who will shoulder the burden. The committee will decide where the debris dumped from the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road near the Tapeshwar Mandir is to be shifted, who will bear the expenses, and how it will be carried out.

NGT orders panel to execute clearing of Aarey debris
NGT orders panel to execute clearing of Aarey debris

The committee will be headed by the chief secretary of Maharashtra, and include the BMC, MPCB, Urban Development Department, Aarey Milk Colony, the Environment Department, a scientist from NEERI, and Anil Dikshit, a professor from IIT Bombay. It has been given one month’s time to prepare a timebound action plan, as monsoon nears.

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This latest development comes after a previous order, dated July 7, 2023, directed the BMC to clear the debris in Aarey, but was not followed through. The BMC claimed that as Aarey falls under the ownership of the Aarey Milk Colony, it neither gives permission to dump debris within it, nor does it have the responsibility to clear it off. In August, as reported by HT, the BMC pleaded that the order should be called off.

Stalin D, director of the NGO Vanashakti that had filed a petition against the dumping, countered. “The debris is being dumped along the JVLR, a road under the BMC, and then pushed off onto the slope into Aarey on the banks of the Mithi River,” he said. “I would notice the debris dumped from excavation work and construction and demolition waste along the road, but the next day it would be gone, like it was cleared off. In actuality, it was being pushed off into the forest, burying hundreds of trees underneath it.”

This culminated in a 25-metre tower, 850 metres long and 80 metres wide, encompassing four lakh metric tonnes of mud and debris. When it is not crushing the environment under it, it leeches pollutants into the river amid heavy rains. Noticing from the opposite side of the Tapeshwar Mandir the dump, Stalin filed the petition in the NGT.

“As the chief secretary is heading the committee, we are confident he will order the BMC to clear off the debris and they will have to comply,” said Stalin.

The order notes that as per the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016, it is the duty of the BMC to ensure safe disposal of C&D waste. While the Aarey Milk Colony agreed it was the owner of the land in which the debris is dumped, it does not have the manpower or resources to clear it off.

Coincidentally, Stalin lodged another complaint on Wednesday concerning a new mound of dumped debris on the Aarey-side of the JVLR road.

“The illegal dumping has resumed again,” said Stalin. “Trucks come and dump the debris along the JVLR at night, and then push it down the slope into Aarey along the Mithi River.”

Stalin wrote to Pravin Darade, principal Secretary (Environment) and Avinash Dhakne from the MPCB, along with the BMC and Mumbai police, asking them to increase patrolling on the site, persecute the culprits, seize their vehicles and auction them to recover the cost of restoring the damaged forest.

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