Mumbai: MBMC deputy chief booked for destroying mangroves

Suresh Golani, Free Press Journal, June 28 2017
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Mira Bhayandar: The gradual growth of slums compounded by illegal dumping of construction debris and garbage is already sounding the death knell for vast stretches of lush mangrove cover and wetlands. However, in Bhayandar what is more shocking is that much of the dumping on mangroves and their destruction is allegedly being done by the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) itself.

The Bhayander police have registered a case under the relevant sections of the Environment Protection Act against six people, including deputy civic chief Dr Sambhaji Panpatte, health officer Rajkumar Kamble, sanitary inspector Arvind Chikle and contractor Narayan Singh for allegedly hacking mangroves in Murdha creek. However, no arrests have been made so far.

“Stressing the importance of de-silting, we had sought permission from the court and have followed its directions by only cleaning and trimming the mangroves. We have not violated any norms. However, the law will take its own course,” said Dr Panpatte. Expressing their helplessness in cleaning over a dozen major water bodies owing to the presence of dense mangrove cover, the MBMC had sought a judicial nod for their relocation to go ahead with their annual pre-monsoon de-silting operations.

However, going by the dismal track record of the MBMC towards protection of mangroves, the judiciary gave its nod to start cleaning debris and garbage near the mangroves and to trim them without causing any damage.

While the MBMC claims to have complied with the orders and submitted a report, local revenue officials in response to complaints of mangrove destruction under the garb of trimming, conducted an inspection and registered an FIR against the officials. It has been alleged that the MBMC officials manipulated the panchnama.

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