Mumbai News: NGT Mandates Committee For Debris Removal Along Mithi River In Aarey Milk Colony Amid Controversy

Mumbai News: NGT Mandates Committee For Debris Removal Along Mithi River In Aarey Milk Colony Amid Controversy

This recent update follows a prior directive issued on July 7, 2023, which instructed the BMC to remove the debris in Aarey.

RUCHA KANOLKARUpdated: Friday, April 19, 2024, 01:15 AM IST
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Aarey Milk Colony | BL Soni/ FPJ

Mumbai: Following months of the BMC and Aarey Milk Colony deflecting responsibility for clearing the debris dumped along the banks of the Mithi River in Aarey, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) intervened on Wednesday by mandating the establishment of a committee. This committee is tasked with determining the allocation of responsibility for the removal of debris from the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road near the Tapeshwar Mandir. Additionally, it will decide on the relocation of the debris, expense distribution, and the method of execution.

The committee, to be chaired by the chief secretary of Maharashtra, will comprise representatives from various organizations, including the BMC, MPCB, Urban Development Department, Aarey Milk Colony, the Environment Department, a scientist from NEERI, and Anil Dikshit, a professor from IIT Bombay. They have been given a month to formulate a time bound action plan, especially as the monsoon season approaches.

Vanashakti's Legal Action Against Debris Dumping And Environmental Impact

Director of the NGO Vanashakti, Stalin D, who had lodged a petition against the dumping, rebutted the BMC's stance. "The debris is first dumped along the JVLR, a road managed by the BMC, and then subsequently pushed down onto the slope into Aarey along the Mithi River banks," he asserted. "I have personally witnessed debris originating from excavation and construction activities along the road. Strangely, the next day, it would vanish as if it had been cleared. However, it became evident that it was merely being displaced into the forest, resulting in the burial of hundreds of trees beneath it," he said.

This led to the formation of a towering mass, standing 25 meters tall, stretching 850 meters in length, and spanning 80 meters in width. It comprised an astonishing four lakh metric tonnes of mud and debris. When inactive in its environmental impact, it releases pollutants into the river during periods of heavy rainfall. Observing the dumping from the opposite side of the Tapeshwar Mandir, Stalin initiated legal action by filing a petition with the NGT.

Dispute Over Debris Removal Responsibility

This recent update follows a prior directive issued on July 7, 2023, which instructed the BMC to remove the debris in Aarey. However, this directive was not implemented. The BMC argued that since Aarey is under the ownership of the Aarey Milk Colony, it neither has the authority to permit debris dumping nor the responsibility to clear it. In August, the BMC appealed for the cancellation of the order.

According to the order, as outlined in the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules of 2016, the BMC bears the responsibility for the safe disposal of construction and demolition waste. While the Aarey Milk Colony admits to owning the land where the debris is dumped, it lacks the necessary manpower and resources for its removal. Stalin filed another complaint on Wednesday regarding a new heap of dumped debris along the Aarey side of the JVLR road.

Urgent Steps Against Illegal Dumping In Aarey Milk Colony

Stalin lodged yet another grievance on Wednesday regarding a newly formed pile of illicitly dumped rubble on the Aarey side of the JVLR roadway. Expressing his dismay, Stalin emphasized the reemergence of unlawful dumping practices, with trucks clandestinely unloading debris along the JVLR during nocturnal hours, subsequently shoving it down the slope into Aarey along the Mithi River.

In response to this blatant transgression, Stalin promptly corresponded with Pravin Darade, the principal Environment Secretary, and Avinash Dhakne from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, alongside the BMC and Mumbai police, urging heightened surveillance at the location, prosecution of perpetrators, confiscation of their vehicles, and their subsequent auctioning to recoup expenses for rehabilitating the ravaged forest.

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