Bombay HC slams MBMC, asks not to harm mangroves while cleaning nullahs

Narsi Benwal, The Free Press Journal, June 08 2017

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Observing that the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) is obsessed with mangroves, Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the civic body to clean the nullahs without harming the mangroves.

A Division Bench presided over by Justice Vidyasagar Kanade and Justice Anant Badar was hearing an application moved by the MBMC seeking permission to remove and relocate mangroves spread over 2 lakh square metres. The MBMC had claimed that due to the presence of dense mangrove cover, they were unable to carry their annual pre-monsoon cleaning operations of dozens of the water bodies in the twin city.

After hearing the submissions, Justice Kanade said, “We get the impression that the civic body is blaming the mangroves over its own failure. It seems the civic body is obsessed with mangroves.”

“We find that, on one hand, protection of mangroves is essential but at the same time more essential is the cleaning of nullahs and removal of debris. This is so, because if cleaning is not done, then several areas would get flooded during monsoon,” the Bench said.

Accordingly, the Bench directed MBMC to forthwith start the cleaning of nullahs across the city. The Bench has allowed the civic body to trim the mangroves wherever it is necessary. The Bench has strictly asked the civic body not to remove or cut down the mangroves.

However, the Bench has said that if in some case, it is necessary to remove the mangroves, the civic body would first demarcate the area from where mangrove will have to be removed and then approach the court and seek permission to remove it.

During the course of hearing, the Bench was informed that several slums have encroached alongside the nullahs and that the inhabitants have been dumping their garbage in these nullahs. The Bench was also informed that several developers dump their debris in these nullahs.

Considering the submissions, the Bench has directed the police to ensure that no one dumps their garbage or debris in the nullah after they are cleaned.

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