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Mumbai wetlands, green spaces under threat from debris dumping, NGO tells state

Two weeks after SC lifted ban on new construction, Vanashakti lists sites used for illegal landfilling

mumbai Updated: Mar 31, 2018 14:12 IST
Badri Chatterjee
A nullah along the Eastern Freeway, Shivaji Nagar, Chembur (East) is filled with debris.
A nullah along the Eastern Freeway, Shivaji Nagar, Chembur (East) is filled with debris.(HT)

With construction for several infrastructure projects underway in Mumbai, the city’s wetlands and green spaces are in danger of being covered under construction debris.

Environment group Vanashakti filed a complaint with the state government on Friday, listing 10 sites in the city that are being used for illegal landfilling.

The sites include two locations along RCF road in Mysore Colony, Chembur (East), two locations on the road below the monorail lines on the Mahul-Wadala stretch and an area proposed for a pumping station at Mahul (home to mangrove trees), one along the Eastern Freeway, Shivaji Nagar, Chembur (East), three locations at Aarey Colony — near the picnic spot, exit near Goregaon flyover and a wetland at Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road, Kanjurmarg dumping ground wetlands, and along Akruli Road in Lokhandwala Township in Kandivli.

The complaint comes less than two weeks after the Supreme Court lifted a two-year-old moratorium on new construction in the city imposed by the Bombay high court with a rider that no new construction in the city will be allowed without first ensuring disposal of construction debris.

“All these areas are witnessing rampant careless dumping of construction and demolition waste, and it is all coming from building construction, metro or monorail projects. In the process, large trees, mangrove areas, water bodies, and nullahs are getting buried under debris. In some cases, the walls of the nullahs are almost going to collapse and the height of the dumping has reached the height of the nullah wall,” said Stalin D, director, Vanashakti, and complainant in the matter. “This haphazard illegal dumping will cause flooding during monsoon besides creating a continuous nuisance of air pollution.”

Incidentally, these areas are monitored using CCTV cameras but dumper trucks are getting access to these areas, said Stalin. He added that project report by various government agencies had clearly stated prior to construction that since movement of dumpers in the city will cause pollution and there is lack of space for dumping excavated mud within city areas, the same mud would be transported to far off places outside the city premises. “No such thing has happened and the entire excavated mud is being disposed of haphazardly across the city including Aarey Colony and Kanjurmarg wetlands,” said Stalin adding, “The agencies need to stick to their original proposition and restore degraded hilly regions outside Mumbai Metropolitan Region, and save our green spaces and wetlands.”

Residents from the western suburbs said waste was being dumped along Akruli road, Lokhandwala Township in Kandivli in the western suburbs. “We have to bear long traffic queues and unnecessary bottlenecks daily. One of the major bottleneck is the wastage dumping centre opposite Hanuman temple on Akruli road, which is not a designated dumping site, making it completely illegal,” said Santosh Shetty, resident from the area.

Meanwhile, Chembur resident Rajkumar Sharma said he will incorporate these issues as a part of his petition regarding waste management being heard by the Bombay high court. “We are witnessing regular dumping at several areas in and around Chembur. I am collating images and will be presenting it in court soon, especially in the wake of the recent SC order,” he said.