A baby crocodile spotted around 10 days ago has been stuck in a garbage-filled pit in Mulund since then as the forest department waits for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to clear the area. The reptile was spotted in the pit and the civic body has been trying to pump out the water since January 8 as part of rescue operations.
“Once we received the complaint, our team visited the area where the crocodile was seen. There is a lot of garbage and muddy water. Since it requires the use of pumps that are available with the BMC, we have asked them to clear it to enable the rescue. Once they clear it, we can immediately conduct the rescue operation,” said Jitendra Ramgaonkar, the chief conservator of forests, Thane.
The crocodile, two-three feet long, was spotted by local people in the pit at Amar Nagar in Mulund. Apart from water overflowing from the lakes in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), the pit also receives dirty water from sewage lines of the nearby residential complexes.
“The pit, almost 15 feet deep, has all forms of garbage, from thermocol to sofa foam. It is not possible for the forest department to rescue the crocodile without clearing it. In fact, a layer of muck has now covered the crocodile preventing us from spotting it,” said Sunish Subramanian Kunju, the honorary wildlife warden, Mumbai.
The BMC ward T officer, Kishore Gandhi, however, claimed that the pit has been cleaned but the crocodile could not be found. “We provided dewatering pumps and removed all the water. An NGO, Resqink Association For Wildlife Welfare (RAWW), stepped in to rescue the crocodile but it could not be found,” he said.
Pawan Sharma of the RAWW said: “They removed the water from the pit but the garbage was still there. There is at least eight to 10 feet of muck below and then four to five feet of water covered by all sorts of garbage. This makes it very difficult to spot the crocodile. Until they clear the garbage, we cannot do anything. Even if we step in, our people will drown. The crocodile was last spotted yesterday (Wednesday). But when it comes out, people pelt stones and scare it away.”
According to Subramanian Kunju, the crocodile is likely to have come into the pit from the Vihar or Tulsi Lake during the monsoon. Speaking about the safety of the crocodile, Sharma said: “If it has survived so long, it will survive for some more time. There is no dearth of food in the drain as there are dead rats and birds. But the toxicity of the water raises concerns. Only when we rescue it will we know what effect the water has had on it. Since it is not its habitat, it will clearly have an impact.”