State to Bombay HC: Kharghar pond that residents want to save is not a wetland
The Raigad district administration has told the Bombay high court (HC) that the Kharghar pond located between sector 18 and 19 in Navi Mumbai, which locals want to be saved, is not a wetland.
An affidavit filed by Panvels’ sub-divisional officer before the HC on Thursday, made public by the petitioners on Monday, referred to a document from the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre (MRSAC) which does not identify the water body as a wetland. However, residents who had petitioned the HC to seek protection for the wetland, have refuted the claim and have said MRSAC’s own website identifies the water body as a lake or pond.
HT has a copy of the document.
The state urban development department (UDD) submitted another affidavit to the HC stating that this piece of land as per revenue records was not a wetland but was privately owned and used for agricultural purposes prior to it being acquired by City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco). “Cidco has submitted its report to the wetland redressal committee that this is not a wetland. As per the Wetland Atlas published by the Centre, this is not a wetland,” read the affidavit by UDD.
HT had first reported on May 15 that dumping of construction debris had destroyed three-fourths of a six-hectare pond called Murbi Talav in Kharghar over the past three years. Local residents, led by a community group Abhivyakti moved the Bombay HC that granted a stay on debris dumping in June.
The Raigad district collector and Cidco refused to comment on the matter as the matter is sub-judice.
Naresh Singh from Abhivyakti said MRSAC was contradicting itself. “There is clear evidence available on MRSAC website that the area is a lake or pond, and going by the new definition from wetland rules (see below), this area is a wetland. We will be submitting our response to the court,” he said.
The matter will be heard next by the HC on September 17.
The new Wetlands (Conservation & Management) Rules, 2017, define a wetland as:
An area of marsh, fen, peatland or water; whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters, but does not include river channels, paddy fields, human-made water bodies/tanks specifically constructed for drinking water purposes and structures specifically constructed for aquaculture, salt production, recreation and irrigation purposes.
What happened at the Kharghar pond?
•HT had reported on May 15 that dumping of construction debris has destroyed three-fourth of a six hectare pond called Murbi Talav located in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) between sector 18 and 19 in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, over the past three years.
•The Bombay High Court (HC) appointed wetland grievance committee has initiated an enquiry into matter after citizens’ submitted satellite images that show 75% of the water body had been reclaimed
•Debris dumping continued at the site even after the City Industrial Development Corporation Limited (CIDCO) set up a board stating no dumping.
•Citizens filed complaints and evens staged protests to stop the destruction citing the area was a natural wetland but complaints fell on deaf ears.
•The HC committee member Stalin D issued directions but no action was taken to stop the violations.
•Irked by the continued violations, citizens moved the Bombay HC that granted a stay on debris dumping at the site last week. There has been no work carried out the pond since, said residents.
•The state submits documents stating the area in question is not a wetland.