With no tidal water, Navi Mumbai loses 4.5 acres of wetland
Complaints on massive mangrove destruction over the years did not yield any result and 4,600 mangrove trees have been completely destroyed in Uran.
The patch of mangrove at CSF Punjab Warehouse dried as tidal water flow was stopped.
Activists alleged that the road expansion work of NH-348 destroyed the 4.5 acres of mangrove patch.
The land where the highway work is going on belongs to City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco). It has leased it to the highway authority.
Pramod Patil, nodal officer environment, Cidco, said, “On Tuesday, we asked the highway officials to allow tidal water to flow into the mangroves. They claimed to have done it. We will wait for 10 to 15 days and then decide on the course of action.”
Environmentalist Nand Kumar Pawar said that Cidco’s claims are hollow. “The dried-up mangrove trees are gone forever. Even if they allow tidal water in, we will not get back the green cover. The roots have dried completely and there is no hope for revival.”
Based on complaints by environmentalists, wetland committee had issued instructions to the highway authority to allow tidal water to flow into the mangroves.
Jagdish Patil, Konkan commissioner and head of wetland committee, said, “I will ask the officials to submit a report. Depending on it, measures would be taken.”
When contacted, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) refused to comment on the issue.
Environmentalists said that wetland committee has always issued instructions and order but have not gone to the field to check whether it has been implemented.
“The destruction didn’t happen overnight. The appointed committee ignored it although we had been highlighting the violations,” said Nand Kumar Pawar, who heads Shree Ekvira Aai Pratisthan.
“The locals have been regularly updating about the development. A report by the forest and revenue officials stated that the survival of 4,600 mangrove tress are at stake. But, the committee ignored the warning and now we have lost the green cover,” he said.
Dried mangrove trees have turned the area into an eyesore. The picture was different four months ago when greenery could be seen in patches.
“Till the issue of wetland reclamation is not addressed, the wetland committee should not take up any other issues,” said D Stalin, member of state mangrove monitoring committee.
“Reclamation work and related projects, which has been going on rampantly in the node for the past few years have destroyed nature,” said Vijesh Patil, 40, a resident of Uran.
“The highway would bring in better connectivity but how can we ever compensate the loss of 4,500 mangrove trees?” he added.
Dilip Koli, member of Paramparik Machhimaar Kruti samiti (traditional fishermen’s action committee), said that the fisherfolks have lost their livelihood.
“We were made to believe that any grievance on wetland and its destruction would be taken care of by the wetland committee. The committee, however, has favored the corporate and government agencies,” said Koli.
“There were days when we earned Rs10,000 for a good catch of fish. Today, we are forced to work as labourers,” said Patil.