Mumbai: Trucks dumping debris on wetlands seized
Mumbai city news: 10 trucks and an excavator machine that were allegedly dumping debris at a 400-acre wetland area opposite Millat Nagar were seized by the Oshiwara policemumbai Updated: Jul 16, 2017 01:46 IST
Ten trucks and an excavator machine that were allegedly dumping debris at a 400-acre wetland area opposite Millat Nagar, Lokhandwala Backroad in Andheri, were seized by the Oshiwara police on Saturday.
Twelve people have been detained for the alleged environment violation and were fined Rs60,000, police officials said. At 9am on Saturday, residents told members of the Oshiwara Lokhandwala Citizens Association (OLCA) that they saw 10 trucks dumping debris at the wetland through the night. They said the dumping activity went on even during the day. The OLCA members alerted the police.
“This is not the first time the land mafia has tried to illegally acquire land. Similar cases are being reported at Versova, Yari Road and Lokhandwala and authorities have not taken action,” said Ashoke Pandit, chairman, OLCA. “We informed the police when the violation was brought to our notice and we are happy they acted on it.”
Rakesh Coelho, OLCA secretary said, “This dumping of debris has destroyed a two-acre patch at the wetland. We spotted them because the work continued during the day too.”
Wetlands are areas temporarily or permanently covered by water, depending on the season and are breeding grounds for a number of animals and birds. They also filter water and air by absorbing impurities. The Bombay HC had banned all reclamation and construction on wetlands in 2014, after NGO Vanashakti filed a PIL to protect them.
“We informed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) about the incident and asked them to verify if any environment laws were broken,” said Sitaram Phand, assistant police inspector, Oshiwara police station. “We will take action after the BMC instructs us to file an FIR under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act.”
The BMC later confirmed the violation. Mayesh Rathod, nuisance detector, P-south ward, said charges under the MRTP Act will be filed on Monday. Environmentalists said this wetland is one of Mumbai’s largest and has been threatened for 15 years.
Wildlife filmmaker Sumesh Lekhi had conducted a study at this wetland site and identified it as an important bird habitat. “Flamingos, sandpipers, egrets and many other birds have made this area their home. The periphery of the wetland site has dense mangrove cover but the centre is a bald patch that gets good supply of brackish water,” he said.