Navi Mumbai: The Kalamboli police have arrested a 61-year-old tanker driver for allegedly releasing chemicals in Kasadi river in the Roadpali area. The police seized the tanker and around 29,000kg of sulphuric acid worth Rs49,000. The chemical was brought in from an industrial chemical manufacturing company from Mahad, the police said.
Based on the information, the Regional Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), along with Kalamboli police, laid a trap on Saturday morning. Around 4.30am, they noticed a tanker was going towards a barren piece of CIDCO land. On following the vehicle, they found that the driver was releasing a chemical that had a strong smell.
The driver was identified as Balbir Ram Singh, a native of Himachal Pradesh. On questioning, he named Harrtz Organics in Mahad, Raigad. On checking the product with Ph paper, the officials found it to be dangerous for human and marine life. A consignment receipt shown by the driver clearly mentioned the chemical was sulphuric acid. MPCB officials took 2litres as samples for lab testing and the remaining was seized. The owner of the tanker was also booked and has been identified as Balwant Singh Bhullar, a resident of Kalamboli.
A case has been registered against the driver and owner of the tanker under the Indian Penal Code for endangering the life and safety of others and the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
Kasadi river flows from Taloja to Belapur creek and in the past fishermen as well as environmentalists have alleged the presence of industrial pollutants in it.
Nandakumar Pawar, the head of Sagar Shakti, Marine Division of Vanashakti, said this is a regular phenomenon in this area where no authority has any control. “Being remote and lonely areas, miscreants take perfect advantage and indulge in illegal activities like draining harmful, hazardous chemicals into the intertidal fishing zones. Definitely some locals are involved in these illegal operations merely for some kind of monetary benefits,” said Mr Pawar, adding that a dedicated team must be constituted to keep a close watch on these remote areas, especially during night hours.
Meanwhile, BN Kumar, the Director of NatConnect Foundation, said this is only the tip of the iceberg as the malaise is deep-rooted. “This calls for a detailed study of all potential polluting points and taking steps to check the menace,” he said.
July 28 2022: Mystery shrouds the death of hundreds of fish and crabs in the creek at Bhendkhal in Uran taluka of Raigad district. The locals alleged a chemical tanker was washed here.
Dec 16, 2022: Hundreds of fish were found dead in a creek in Bhendkhal in Uran taluka last week. Locals alleged chemical was released from a tanker.
Nov 2017: A stray dog turned blue after a swim in the Kasadi river. Environmentalists claimed the high presence of chemicals affected the dog’s fur.
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