Following protests by residents of Borivali and social activists, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s R central ward (Borivali) initiated action against illegal tabelas (cattle sheds) on Friday. The Medical Officer of Health (MOH) of R central ward seized three buffaloes from one of the cattle sheds, although residents felt the action was not enough.
As the cattle impounding vehicle could not carry more than three animals, only three buffaloes were seized although officials vowed to continue the action against illegal cowsheds. Residents of Srikrishna complex, along with members of the group, River March, have been complaining against cattle sheds along the Western Express Highway (WEH) for dumping cattle waste and carcasses into Dahisar river. The BMC action so far had been confined to putting up a mesh on the outlet through which the cattle owners dumped waste.
Friday’s action irked residents waiting for the civic body to penalise or remove illegal tabelas altogether. “Initially, we got to know that they will demolish the tabelas and seize the animals. However, later, we were told that there is a stay against demolition of tabelas but the animals can be seized. If that was so, why did the BMC officials not come prepared? They should have got bigger vehicle or more vehicles,” said Gopal Jhaveri, an environmentalist and a member of River March.
Jhaveri added: “The licences of these tabelas expired in 2005. They have not renewed their licences, and are hence operating illegally and continue to openly pollute the river by dumping carcasses and cow dung. The BMC should have acted seriously.”
On July 20, residents of Srikrishna Complex, a housing society with over 250 families located near the 18 cowsheds and the Dahisar river, found two carcasses in the river and reported it to the disaster management cell. Following a demand from residents, R central ward officials registered a police complaint against the cowshed owners. However, neither were the cowshed owners penalised by the BMC nor was any action initiated by the police.
Two days after the incident, the BMC fixed a mesh on the tunnel to block cattle dung and carcasses being dumped by cowshed owners. However, within a week, the mesh was reportedly stolen. The residents are now demanding that all animals be seized and shifted. Assistant Commissioner of R central, Atul Rao, said they were planning to seize more animals but due to the small vehicle available on Friday they could seize only three. “This is not a final action. It has just been initiated and will continue. We have taken action against them for violating BMC norms. We have assured residents that we will not allow tabela owners to create more nuisance,” Rao said.