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Now, Google lens on mangrove, before pre-monsoon desilting!

Monday, April 16, 2018
By Suresh Golani

Stung by FIR’s registered against them by the police under the relevant sections of the Environment Protection Act, last year, senior officials attached to the sanitation wing of the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) are treading cautiously before embarking on the pre-monsoon desilting project in creeks which have a large presence of mangroves. 

Into the advance stages of filing a judicial petition seeking permission to relocate mangroves for carrying out de-silting operations in an effective manner, the MBMC has rolled up its sleeves to prepare a comprehensive report supported by satellite imagining of the coastal vegetation to substantiate our claims and stressing the importance of de-silting. There are a total of 155 major and minor nullahs in the twin-city which measure up to more than 240 kms. However for the past couple of years, the MBMC-appointed contractual companies have been expressing helplessness to clean twelve major water bodies including two major creeks-Jhaffery (Mira Road), Murdha and Rai  in Bhayandar owing to the presence of dense mangrove cover.

These creeks are crucial outlets that protect the twin-city from possible floods. MBMC chief Dr. B.G.Pawar inspected major nullahs and creeks on Friday. However, according to environmentalist, to say that hacking mangroves is a flood prevention measure is itself misleading. Mangroves are not only the natural barriers against floods, they protect the shoreline from soil erosion.

“Choked with sludge, debris and muck, the creeks pose a serious threat of flooding in low-lying areas, especially during high tides. We are not against mangroves, but at some spots, their trimming and relocation are inevitable. To ensure minimal damage, we have decided to map the buffer zones in a digitised manner,” confirmed deputy civic chief-Dr. Sambhajji Panpatte. It should be noted that as per the High Court directives, destruction of mangroves would attract stringent punishment under the Environment Protection Act.

Payment elusive, contractors not keen to work!
The MBMC hires private contractual agencies to conduct pre-monsoon desilting operations in the twin-city. However, this year the tenders floated twice by the civic administration have met with a cold shoulder response by bidders at it has come to notice that the previous contractor is still awaiting payments amounting to Rs. 75 lakh towards billing of last years desilting work envisaging manual and mechanical excavation and provision of suction pumps to de-water chronic flooding spots in the region.

“Due to an upward revision of the budgetary allocation from Rs.50 lakh to Rs. 2 crores, the payments have been held up owing to delay in the mandated re-appropriation process needed to clear payments. Tenders have been recalled, desilting work will begin and be completed on time.” said an official.

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