Only 26% wetland destruction plaints addressed in 3 months: Mumbai
A Bombay high court (HC)-appointed panel said only 26% mangrove and wetland destruction complaints filed between February and April have been addressed by state agencies.
The state mangrove and wetland committee, during its fourth meeting on Thursday, presented details compiled by various government agencies and found that 75 complaints had been filed from February to April. Of these, only 20 have been addressed, while the rest are still under investigation.
Neenu Somraj, deputy conservator of forest, state mangrove cell and member secretary of the committee, said, “Some of the cases are repetitive and inquiry is underway. We will take stock of the remaining complaints by the next meeting.”
“Debris- and mud-dumping is the major issue across mangrove and wetland areas in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and isolated zones along the Konkan coast. The Konkan divisional commissioner has, through a written order, directed all municipal corporations to urgently remove debris from all mangrove, wetland, and intertidal areas,” said Somraj. Jagdish Patil, Konkan commissioner, confirmed the developments.
Committee members on Thursday also raised the issue that the state was not demarcating coastal wetlands. “The Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre (MRSAC) does not have a repository of coastal wetlands in their database. This is why wetlands are being destroyed despite Bombay HC orders prohibiting them across the state’s coastline,” said Stalin D, committee member.
Deepak Apte, director, Bombay Natural History Society, said, “As per Supreme Court orders, inland or coastal areas with mangroves or waterbodies are wetlands. There needs to be a mechanism to recognise them.”
Meanwhile, the Raigad district administration told the committee that they had identified 131 wetlands within the district. Somraj told the Raigad collector to check whether wetlands identified by them included sites where alleged violations have been reported in Uran and to stop reclamation immediately. “Wetland-related complaints will be forwarded to the state environment department’s wetland committee,” said Somraj.
Additionally, representatives from the Mumbai city and suburban district administration confirmed that police action was being taken with regard to complaints of environmental violations. “The Mumbai city district administration said they had directed the police to file a FIR against the Army for carrying out reclamation less than 50m away from mangroves areas at the Sagar Matha Club in Colaba. The suburban collector’s office said an FIR was filed last month against contractors working at the Indian Navy Station (INS), Hamla for mangrove destruction, and the progress of the case needs to be verified by the Mahrashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB),” said Stalin.
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