Violation of high court order, mangrove committee directive, say greens
NAVI MUMBAI: Taking advantage of the absence of environmental officers’ surveillance check due to corona care, Uran Municipal Council (UMC) has ignored the city’s burning garbage dump and started spreading it on mangroves even as over 3,000 people in the vicinity continued to suffer due to unchecked air pollution.
The civic body has already hoodwinked the Prime Minister’s Office and “today’s is the criminal act of the worst order as it violates the Bombay High Court order to protect mangroves and wetlands,” said B N Kumar, director of NGO Natconnect Foundation, bringing it to the notice of the Court-appointed Mangrove Protection and Conservation Committee and the State Environment department.
The Mangrove committee has directed local planner CIDCO and Raigad Collector over three months ago to clear the garbage dump cleared and find an alternative site, while the revenue officials themselves filed an FIR against the UMC officials under the Environment Protection Act, said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan.
The environmentalists and local residents have also tweeted to the PMO, the CMO apart from environment minister Aditya Thackeray on the latest development pleading for immediate intervention before the situation gets worse.
The continued destruction of the nature, caring two hoots for the Court and the mangrove committee directive, bears stark resemblance of the burial of mangroves and wetlands by NMSEZ during the last Lok Sabha elections when the environment officials were away on poll duty, Kumar said.
“We have in fact cautioned the authorities against the possibility of unscrupulous elements talking advantage of the complete lockdown and curfew period,” he said and regretted: “Our premonition, unfortunately, came true.”
Local residents, who have been forced to bear the brunt of the garbage dump, were in fcat cynical as no positive development has taken place over the years. To make matters worse, the civic body started spraying pesticides in heavy doses on the garbage being dumped non-stop, said Samir Ashrit, a long time resident of Bori Pakhadi which is in a stone’s throw from the muck.
The people at Bori Pakhadi and neighbouring Hanuman Koliwada in particular have been facing breathing problems due to the smoke billowing out of the burning plastic, rubber, tyres and other muck, even as the mangroves continue to be choked.
The residents had even complained to the Prime Minister but the PMO closed the case on the UMC’s assurance that proper care would be taken while disposing of the garbage, said Ashrit. “This assurance was never meant to be followed and we the residents continued to suffer,” he said.
The dump was set afire by some miscreants disposing off packets of potato chips with expired date on the last Wednesday and even since more than ten fire tenders belonging to the ONGC made trips to douse the flames. The police filed an FIR against three people under a relatively mild provision of section 336 of IPC that provides for a three month jail and/or a fine of Rs 250.
“Our protests have been ignored and we do not understand the officials’ mind-set in making us suffer like this,” said another resident Pritam Thakur. “We cannot come out due to the lockdown and the Section 144 in force and are unable sit at home due to the unbearable stink,” he said and pointed out that several elderly people are silently suffering.
Advocate Ratnadeep Patil, spearheading the Uran Yuva forum, said the law abiding residents agitating peacefully so far and that their patience should be tested too long.