Killed by garbage dump, mangroves come alive at Uran

Maharashtra: Killed by garbage dump, mangroves come alive at Uran

This is the second case of destroyed mangroves coming back to life on their own

Mangroves at Bori Pakhadi in Uran, Maharashtra. Credit: NatConnect Foundation

Reckless dumping of urban garbage for well over 15 years has killed many mangroves at Bori Pakhadi in Uran across Mumbai harbour, but sea plants have grown once more on their own, proving that they can survive and regrow without human intervention.

This is the second case of destroyed mangroves coming back to life on their own.

Earlier, over 5,000 sea plants, killed during the expansion of NH348, had sprouted again after the tidal water flow that was blocked was restored due to persistent campaigning by environmentalists.

“But the continued violation of Bombay High Court order to protect mangroves definitely calls for contempt cases against the NHAI and CIDCO respectively in both these incidents,” said NatConnect Foundation director B N Kumar.

The garbage menace on mangroves and wetland continues despite the local resident groups of Bori Pakhadi and Hanuman Koliwada, backed by environmentalists, knocking the doors of powers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Read | 1,450 ha mangroves to come under Maharashtra Forest Dept fold for protection

Moreover, the stinking dump has posed many health hazards to senior citizens, in particular, as the location was on fire during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in India back in May.

The all-powerful Bombay High Court-appointed Mangrove Protection and Conservation Committee had ordered the Uran Municipal Council back in December 2019 to stop dumping garbage and asked CIDCO and Raigad District Collector to find an alternative dumping ground. This order went unheeded, said Kumar of NatConnect who wrote to the Prime Minister twice and the Chief Minister several times.

The first letter to the PM was by local activist Samir Ashrit whose complaint was closed after the Uran Municipal Council promised to take adequate care while dumping the garbage. Let alone taking care, the UMC even drained sewer, collected in small tankers from the city, on the mangroves. Even medical waste and the Corona waste have been dumped here, Ashrit decried.

NatConnect’s letter to PM, questioning the effectiveness of the 'Swachh Bharat' drive with garbage at the doorstep of residents, has been referred to the State Urban Development Department. Letters to the CM have also been referred to the same department. A third letter to the PM saw an exchange of 15 mails between the PMO and the Union Health Department and ultimately, the ball landed in State Urban Development Department’s court!

Also Read | Environmentalists win battle to save mangroves off NH 348 in Uran near NHAI site

Finally, in response to an RTI application by NatConnect, the UMC responded that it has asked the District Collector to pursue with CIDCO for the alternative plot which is yet to materialise.

“This is an utter sorry state of affairs with CIDCO abdicating its responsibility,” said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan. He wondered if UD officials would have acted in a similar lethargic fashion had the issues been raised in South Mumbai.

“We can understand the officials’ priorities during the pandemic,” said Kumar and pointed out that proper disposal of garbage also formed part of the Covid-19 care.

Raigad district Guardian Minister Aditi Tatkare had also intervened when she was confronted by a group of concerned citizens at the opening of a Covid care centre at Uran in December. She had asked then collector Dr Nidhi Chaudhary to sort out the issue quickly.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox