Mumbai: Debris, hutments encroaching upon SGNP
Forest authorities removed nine illegal huts near the Aarey Milk Colony boundary wall in Sanjay Gandhi National Park on Monday evening, in a bid to stop illegal dumping of debris inside the park.
The move comes after wildlife activist Sachin Roy came across a mound of debris nearly three storeys high, spread over 3,000 sqft inside the park. Roy approached the not-for-profit Watchdog Foundation two weeks ago.
The NGO wrote to the chief conservator of forests and submitted photographic evidence of the debris. “On visiting the site, one can see almost 1,500 truckloads of debris had been dumped inside the forested area. The dumping must have been happening over months, which is what gave rise to the hutments,” said Nicholas Almedia, from the Watchdog Foundation.
Acting on the complaint, SGNP authorities demolished the huts. “We increased vigilance in the area as incidents like this have been happening for a while. Illegal slums and liquor breweries have been cropping up inside the park,” said Vikas Gupta, director and chief conservator of forest, SGNP.
Gupta said this was happening because of the vast expanse of the park that is surrounded by urban areas. Further, the compound wall on the park’s periphery has not been fully constructed, allowing for easy entry points.
For instance, forest officers arrested a truck driver and seized his truck that entered the park to dump debris on May 13. Such drivers are paid around Rs800-1,000 to dump debris from different parts of the city, said a local.
“There is wall defining the boundary of the forest and Aarey department. The illegal hutments came up inside the forest area, as the site is accessible. The illegal huts started cropping up just a few metres away from this dumping site, adjacent to the proposed zoo,” Roy said.
The arrival of monsoon was declared on Thursday, when it began raining early in the morning. From 8.30am on Thursday to 8.30am on Friday — the period between the two morning hours is how IMD classifies its 24-hour period — the city recorded 117.2mm. Normally, Delhi records 210.6mm of rain in July. Throughout Friday, there was significantly less rainfall, and the maximum temperature at the Safdarjung weather station (considered representative of Delhi’s) settled at 31.9°C, 2.5 degrees more than Thursday.
Fresh recruitment will be done via an open selection process for these newly converted posts. Those occupying the posts will not qualify to be permanent without participating in the open selections. Officials said that the LG has asked concerned officials to process the filling of vacancies and upgradation at the earliest, unduly pending for years.
The BA.5 is overtaking other Omicron lineage coronaviruses in several parts of the world, reinforcing early signs that it has a growth advantage after having triggered new waves in some regions. Dr Ekta Gupta, professor of clinical virology at Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS), said, “At ILBS, we have reported seven-eight cases of BA.5 so far. This is out of the samples we received from across the city.”
The decisions were taken in the meeting of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) on Friday at the Delhi secretariat and a government official later said the move was in line with the Arvind Kejriwal government’s larger vision of cleaning the Yamuna.
Deepak Kesarkar, an MLA who represents Sawantwadi, said that after his return from Mumbai on Thursday night, the newly sworn-in chief minister asked the MLAs to behave in a “more mature fashion”.