The Thane forest division has asked the Mira Bhayander Municipal commissioner to take prior permission of the central government before it undertakes drainage work adjoining mangrove areas next to its sewage treatment plant (STP) at Jesal Park in Bhayander. The corporation is supposed to have undertaken the work inspite of a High Court ban on reclamation and construction on wetlands.
“The Jesal Park area adjoining mangroves, where the work is on, is not yet notified as ‘protected’, but it comes under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 according to the Bombay High Court’s October 2005 order. Therefore, work done by the MBMC in this area violates the Act. So I request you to take prior permission from the central government before undertaking any work on such land,” Thane Forest Department Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) K P Singh said in a letter sent to the Mira Bhayander Corporation.
Following a petition in the Bombay HC that alleged violations at Jesal Park, court-ordered inspection of these areas by the Forest Departments mangrove cell on February 19 took place.
The inspection revealed that Jesal Park Chowpatty, Chacha Nehru Baludyan and ancillary facilities created by the MBMC such as playgrounds and jetty are actually located in areas which had been mapped as mangroves till 2005 in the Coastal Zone landscape.
The court had directed that prompt action be taken by the collector and authorities designated under the Environment Protection Act against the violations. In spite of this, the MBMC had initiated work on these areas. Newsline had reported on March 31 that the MBMC’s drainage work and associated land-filling outside its sewage treatment plant at Jesal Park was on and that dumping was observed close to the mangroves despite the court’s orders.
Following the report, officials from the Thane forest division and mangrove cell visited the spot the following day and found dumpers and JCB machines adjoining mangrove areas, but no work was on.