15-year-long garbage dumping on Uran mangroves ends as HC intervenes

Muck to be dumped at Chal, 40 km away, locals, greens rejoice

Justices Justices Milind N. Jadhav and S.J. Kathawalla have taken a strong exception to the procrastination and the “administrative failure” over finding a solution to the menace.

MUMBAI: Ending the nearly 15-year-long relentless flight by local people and environmentalists over dumping of garbage on mangroves in Uran across Mumbai harbour, a high -level State government meeting has resolved to shift the dumping to a faraway new location and thus save the sea plants.

The meeting, held on last Thursday (Dec 9) at the instance of Bombay High Court, was presided over State Environment and Climate Change Minister Aditya Thackeray, has come out with a two-pronged strategy to treat dry waste at Uran Municipal Council’s (UMC) Material Recovery Facility and send the wet waste to the dumping ground at Chal village near Panvel.

Local planning agency government-owned CIDCO, which has been dilly-dallying on the issue so far, has agreed to accept the Uran garbage at Chal village.

Officials said the transport burden would not be much as the UMC might make have to make just two trips a week to carry the garbage to the new site, about 40 KM away from Uran.

Earlier, Justices Justices Milind N. Jadhav and S.J. Kathawalla have taken a strong exception to the procrastination and the “administrative failure” over finding a solution to the menace.

Despite the officials’ commitment to the Court and the judicial orders, the issue remained unresolved, the Court observed taking up the writ petition filed by the Shri Hanuman Koliwada Macchimar Vikas Sanstha Maryadit.

On last Tuesday, the Court finally directed the Advocate General to take up the issue with the State Environment Minister and resolve it.

Hanuman Koliwada, a resettlement of displaced fishing community from Nhava, is in the vicinity of the garbage dump at Bori Pakhadi which also has been posing health hazards.

During  the prolonged campaign, NatConnet Foundation moved  the Prime Minister twice over the way the Swachh Bharat movement has been thrown to winds. The PMO responded by directing the Maharashtra Urban Development Department to look immediately look into the issue.

The High Court-appointed Mangrove Protection and Conservation Committee has, on complaint from NatConnect and Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, directed CIDCO and the Raigad District Collector to stop destruction of mangroves and find an alternative dumping place.

At the instance of the two NGOs and the local pressure, the revenue department even filed an FIR at Uran police station against the UMC. “Yet, sadly nothing affected all the officials collectively and the garbage dumping continued with intermittent fires that filled the air with nasty stink and gases,” NatConnect Director B N Kumar said.

“Uran municipal council denials notwithstanding, we have seen draining of even sewer water carried by tankers,” Kumar said.

Advocate Meenaz Kakalia said the advocate general presented the minutes of the government meeting to the Court on Monday. The next hearing is fixed for January to review the progress of implementation.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni briefed the officials that included Additional Revenue Secretary Nitin Karir, Principal Secretary UDD-2 Mahesh Pathak, Principal Secretary, Environment & Climate Change Manisha Mhaiskar, CIDCO MD Dr Sanjay Mukherji, Konkan Divisional Commissioner Vilas Patil, MPCB Member Secretary Ashok Shingare, Raigad collector Dr Mahendra Kalyankar, Deputy Conservator of Forest Ashish Thakare and Uran Municipal Council Chief Officer Santosh Mali.

“Ant bhala tohj sab bhala,” (All is well that ends well), said local activist Samir Ashrit who has relentlessly spearheaded the fight.