15 villages at risk of flooding in Uran wetlands this monsoon: Report
With environmentalists alleging construction work is damaging the wetlands in Uran, the City Industrial Development Corporation Ltd (Cidco), which owns much of the land in the area, has admitted to flooding concerns. The agency will submit a detailed plan to the Raigad collector soon.
An assessment of the ecological destruction in Uran was carried out on Friday by mangroves committee member Stalin D, along with environment groups Nature Connect and Shree Ekvira Aai Pratisthan (SEAP). “Since construction debris blocked off the natural flow of water, there is no place for the tidal flow to disperse,” said Stalin. Members of the state mangroves committee and independent environmentalists fear 15 villages may be inundated, affecting 70,000 people.
On Monday, Cidco inspected the area along with officials from the Raigad revenue and forest departments. “There is a serious risk of flooding for many villages from June onwards, and we have to keep sluice gates shut to prevent natural disasters. A detailed plan has been prepared and will be submitted to the Raigad collector soon,” said Pramod Patil, nodal officer (environment), Cidco. The agency has said it will shut down sluice gates at Panje and Karanje six times a month during the monsoon to prevent tidal ingress. However, villagers and environmentalists allege flooding in the area is caused by construction debris that was dumped in tidal areas and disrupted the flow of water.
HT has reported recurrent cases of mangrove and wetland destruction in Uran since June 2018. The Panje wetland in Uran dried up after Cidco blocked off tidal water in September 2018. Following complaints, the government body opened flood protection gates to restore the wetlands. Now Cidco wants to close sluice gates six times a month to prevent flooding. “However, there is no need to shut sluice gates at Panje because the wetland is dry,” said Stalin.
The Konkan commissioner said an investigation is underway. “The Raigad administration and Cidco have been asked to submit a detailed report. Our members are identifying whether areas destroyed are notified wetlands,” said Jagdish Patil, Konkan commissioner. Loss of wetlands for non-infrastructure activities that do not need use of wetlands is a violation of Bombay high court (HC) orders and environment laws. “Cidco has brazenly leased out the plots with water bodies and surviving mangroves around the Navi Mumbai Special Economic Zone (NMSEZ) and the landfill is burying the wetlands and killing thousands of mangroves,” said Nandakumar Pawar, head of SEAP.
Raigad collector Vijay Suryavanshi said corrective action will be taken to ensure the coastal ecosystem is safe.