THE PALGHAR collector has stopped all activities, including boating and fishing, in the Vaitarna creek.
The decision comes after the collector received complaints that despite a High Court order forbidding any activities at the creek, people were still taking boat rides under the bridge.
According to Collector Kailash Shinde, the order from the High Court is from a PIL filed in 2018.
“This is not a new order, we have been following the order that all activities be banned under the bridge, as there are concerns about the bridge becoming dangerous due to illegal sand mining,” Shinde said.
The collector held the quarterly vigilance meeting with other departments like the police and the Western Railway officials last month.
In it, he directed that strict surveillance should be maintained as he had received complaints from various sources about people entering the creek.
“This is against the High Court order and thus we need to be more careful. That was discussed in the meeting. All the departments have been asked to be more alert,” Shinde said.
However, residents of villages around the Vaitarna creek said this will affect their livelihood as they will not be allowed to fish in the waters.
“This order exists but the villagers still go in the creek. It is our primary source of income for months on end,” said Manoj More from Vaitipada. He added, “The sand miners are the ones who are wrong. Why punish us?”
Excessive sand mining has been a concern in the area as local cultivators from Jhaw village filed a PIL stating that the use of suction pumps in
the area for sand mining has led to the drowning of several small islands.
The HC bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla in 2018 had noted that the “use of suction pumps
to excavate sand at Vaitarna creek would definitely affect the environment and geographical territory as contended in the PIL”.
According to Shinde, if people are facing problems they should reach out to him.
“As a collector, I will try to solve problems as long as people come to me. But we need to follow the HC order and stop illegal practices,” he said.