Mangroves: Court slams Mira-Bhayander Corporation

Sharika Dhar, Moneylife, June 22 2017

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A bench of Justices VM Kanade and A M Badar slammed the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation for the proposal to cut down mangroves for pre-monsoon clean up.
The Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) had approached the Bombay High Court for permission to cut the mangroves in the Mira-Bhayander area. The corporation had undertaken the activity of the pre-monsoon clean-up and claimed that the mangroves were an obstruction to clear the sludge and debris dumped in the creeks.
The bench said, “The Corporation seemed to be only interested in removing mangroves so that unscrupulous builders can usurp land.”
Previously, the corporation had filed an application to the court, which had given permission to “trim” mangroves, only if it was absolutely necessary, and to conduct a survey to give the exact number of mangroves which would have to be cut for the clean-up. The court also gave a timeline of one week to complete the cleaning and present the survey. Neither did the corporation complete the clean-up nor did it present the survey in a week, saying that the cutting of the mangroves is essential for the cleaning.
The Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG) has pointed to the success of the cleaning methods used for the Mithi River, which did not harm the trees there, and suggested that the MBMC could do the same.
Mr Debi Goenka, a senior most environmental activist and a member of the BEAG, explained that BEAG had filed public interest litigation in October 2005 to protect the mangroves, because of which the court’s permission is required before cutting down mangroves.
The bench has directed the forest department to supervise the corporation’s work and asked the police and the civic authorities to ensure that real estate developers in the area do not dump construction debris into the drains and water bodies.
Previously, the Bombay High Court had given permission to the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) for clearing 108 mangroves in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) area for the construction of the BKC metro station, which falls under the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz metro plan. The court stated that it took a pragmatic view of this case as the metro was a “necessity for the city.”

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