Activists see red as debris dumping continues at Belpada wetland
Dumping of debris and destruction of wetland at Belpada in Uran taluka has been continuing unabated.
Environmentalists have claimed that a fresh case of dumping has been reported from the Uran wetland, the only remaining massive green space in the region.
Nand Kumar Pawar, who has been fighting to save wetlands in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), said, “The wetland at Belpada is the last surviving wetland. Illegal debris dumping has been going on since January but now a huge damage has been done by blocking the natural tidal flow of the waterbody.”
“I had registered a complaint with Bombay high court appointed mangrove protection committee in March. Despite my complaint, dumping continues. The wetland which is home to many migratory and resident birds might soon be lost,” said Pawar.
Pramod Patil, nodal officer, environment, City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), said he visited the site on Friday.
“I have received a complaint regarding dumping at Belpada. Forest officials stopped the dumping activity at Belpada on Thursday. The area where dumping has been happening is not a wetland.”
“The executive engineer was asked to clear the debris from the site and keep an eye on further dumping in the area,” said Patil.
Belpada wetland is a huge wetland area and rich in flora and fauna. Many fishermen have been fishing in the wetland for years.
Belpada is in the same vicinity of Dastan wetland, where 500 acres of wetland area was reclaimed recently. Dastan was levelled to make way for houses for the project-affected people.
“Cidco is never aware of the damage to the environment. According to them, there is no wetland in Navi Mumbai. I am surprised that they don’t know who the owner of land is and hence have allowed dumping,” said Abhijeet Sharma, a city-based activist.
D Stalin, HC-appointed mangrove protection committee member, said, “I have received the complaint on dumping. This is strategic approach to kill the green zone. The wetland must be restored and dumped debris must be removed for tidal flow to be restored. We have recommended this to the committee.”
The Belpada wetland, which is a backwater area, is 24 kms from Panvel.
Activist BN Kumar, director of NGO The Nature Connect, said, “This is part of systematic burial of wetlands. The landfill assumes speed during election period and long holidays when the environment or revenue official supervision is not available. We appeal to the committee to take serious note of Belpada and take action,” said Kumar.
A study by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) had listed Belpada wetland among some of the places affected by Navi Mumbai international airport work.
Sunil Agarwal, city-based environmentalist, said, “Wetland and streams are a must for the eco-system. They are important role to minimise destruction during natural calamities like floods. The backwater at Belpada and the other on Palm Beach Road are important natural resources for Navi Mumbai and they must be preserved.”