FIRs in 3 cases of wetland reclamation in Uran
First information reports (FIRs) were registered in three cases of reclamation of mangrove forests in Uran.
The first FIR was regarding a 233-hectare wetlands area in Panje where debris was dumped on Tuesday. The FIR was registered against the contractor appointed by a private company for dumping debris at a proposed industrial site. Village accountant Shama Ashok Pawar complained against a dumper driver, Dasharath Gurunath Rathod, whom the officials caught red-handed carrying about 1.8 tonnes of soil. “Rathod did not have valid transport and royalty permits for bringing in the soil,” the complaint said. He was booked under section 379 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code .
The other two cases were regarding the destruction of mangroves on 160 acres of land in Pagote and Bhendkhal where FIRs were registered against unidentified persons. Both the areas are recognised as wetlands under the state’s wetland atlas. Revenue officer Machindra Kashinath Mohite, the complainant in Pagote mangrove destruction case, alleged that mangroves on at least three acres of the eight-acre plot were destroyed. In the third case, village accountant Hashuram Aambo Wagh stated in his FIR that mangroves over 150 acres were destroyed at Bhendkhal. “The cases were registered after site visits and punchanama by the revenue department based on complaints of debris dumping filed by environment groups on Tuesday,” said a police officer.
“Even though Panje may not be a wetland, the site is being surveyed to find out whether it should be declared a wetland or not. Till this declaration happens, the area needs to be protected,” said Satish Navale, sub-divisional officer, Raigad adding directions were issued by his department under violations of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 in all three cases that mandate maximum punishments up to five-year jail term and ₹1 lakh penalty.
Environment and citizens’ groups NatConnect Foundation and Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP), which had complained about the illegal activities, demanded a detailed investigation into the cases. “The FIRs show only a tip of the iceberg of a long list of violations in Uran,” said Nandkumar Pawar, head, SEAP. BN Kumar, director NatConnect said, “The existing enforcement authorities are not equipped to handle environmental crimes.”