Massive truck movement at for wetland burial goes ‘unnoticed’ at JNPT, FIR blames ‘none’
NAVI MUMBAI: Environmentalists have raised alarm over ‘severe security breach’ in JNPT area where several truckloads of debris and soil were moved and dumped on parts of about a 10-hectare wetland about which ‘nobody’ had any clue.
Uran taluka revenue officials have filed an FIR against ‘unidentified people’ following green groups’ complaints to the State government against the landfill on the wetland near Savarkhar village. The wetland is under the JNPT ownership and control, the FIR filed by revenue circle officer Sandeep Rode on Tuesday (Dec 14) affirmed.
Both the JNPT engineer and the village sarpanch who were present during the Panchanama at the site stated that they were unaware as to who dumped the debris and truckloads of soil on the wetland, the FIR recorded.
“This is strange as JNPT ought to have a tight security at its properties,” said NatConnect director B N Kumar. It is not a simple case of an unauthorized debris dumping. A vast stretch of the waterbody has been reclaimed, at two places as the FIR recorded, he pointed out.
Pointing out that this huge truck movement and dumping would have raised a lot of noise which ‘nobody’ heard, Kumar said: “It is definitely the case of a serious security breach if the unidentified people drove in several heavy vehicles and vanished,” he said.
NatConnect Foundation and Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP) have written to Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray requesting for a high-level probe into the security lapse and the landfill at JNPT.
The port is of global importance and thousands of workers are employed there, the complaint said.
Meanwhile, responding to the Tahsildar letter about the landfill on December 11, JNPT claimed that the area is not a wetland as it used to be a paddy field before CIDCO acquired and allotted it to the port. The letter, however, was silent on the landfill which the revenue official has stopped by order on Sunday.
This letter also raises suspicion, said SEAP head Nandakumar Pawar. Some villagers claimed that JNPT was helping them in creating a playground in the area for which the landfill was being done, he said.
Quoting a document from the Tahsildar, Pawar said the 9.45-hectare Savarkhar waterbody figures on the 13-wetland list of Uran.
Savarkhar wetland is also a destination for hundreds of migratory birds and a source of income for the fishing community, he said and requested the Centre and the State to ensure that the wetland is conserved.
As per the Supreme Court, waterbodies above 2.5 hectares ought to be preserved as wetlands, he said.
Quoting the Ramsar Convention, the union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change says that Wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tides does not exceed six metres.
In view of these facts, the Savarkhar wetland has to be protected, Kumar said.