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Uran dumping ground will be shut to protect wetlands

By Badri Chatterjee, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JAN 03, 2020 01:36 AM IST

A garbage dump created on mangrove forests in Uran, Navi Mumbai, will be shut down after persistent complaints from local residents and environmentalists. The Uran municipal council said the dumping ground, which has been functional for 13 years, will be closed down to protect wetlands. The municipal council said it has identified alternative sites for a dumping ground.

Citizens reached out to environmentalists in August last year when sewage from the dump started seeping into the wetland. Over the next four months persistent complaints were filed by environmentalists. On December 13, 2019 the site was visited by environmental activists and a team from the district administration, which included representatives from the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) since a gas pipeline runs through the area. The complainants and environment groups Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP) and NatConnect Foundation, along with the district administration, recorded garbage was being dumped on mangroves in Uran.

On December 23, the mangrove protection and conservation committee, appointed by the Bombay high court (HC), directed the Raigad collector to clear garbage from the mangroves. In 2018, the HC had banned construction or garbage dumping on mangroves and areas less than 50 metres from the trees.

“The Raigad district administration has been directed to clear the garbage, restore the area, and submit a detailed report before the committee,” said Neenu Somraj, member secretary of the HC-appointed panel. Raigad collector Vijay Suryawanshi said he had directed revenue officials to carry out a site inspection and stop dumping garbage on mangroves. An ONGC official said, “If the dump yard is removed, it will reduce potential danger to this pipeline.”

The two-hectare dumping ground is located between Bori Pakhadi and Hanuman Koliwada villages. At one end, less than 100 metres from the dumping ground, is a residential colony and at the other end is dense mangrove cover. Awdhut Tawde, chief executive officer, Uran, said two sites, around 15 km from Uran (towards Raigad), have been identified for a new dumping ground, which is expected to be operational in the next four months. “As of now there is no dumping on mangroves. The trees are protected. However, to ensure long term protection, we are shifting the dumping ground away from Uran itself. After approvals from the resident deputy collector, state pollution control board, and other state agencies, we will finalise the land acquisition,” he said.

According to Tawde, Uran generates 10 tons of waste daily. Five tons are wet waste (kitchen, organic and horticultural waste) and the remaining is dry (recyclable and non-recyclable inorganic waste). Around three tons of wet waste are treated at source, at a waste-to-energy plant located at the municipal council office. “We have also started a composting pit, which will treat the remaining wet waste by the end of the month. Apart from dry waste collected by rag pickers and some local residents, we are only left with three tons going to the dump site, which will soon be moved out,” Tawde said.

“Garbage mounds on mangroves combined with sewage water have led to hazardous conditions with leachate being leaked into the wetland,” said BN Kumar, director NatConnect.

However, residents were unconvinced by the civic body’s promises. “We have been told that the district collector allotted the current plot for garbage and no alternatives were available,” said Pritam Thakur, a resident of Bori Pakhadi.

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