The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), a nodal agency reporting to the union environment ministry for screening coastal projects, has allegedly “connived” with the civic body to “facilitate the loss of wetlands” in the Thane creek and this is evident in the go-ahead it gave the latter for starting a dumping ground at Kanjurmarg, says environmental non-profit organisation Vanashakti. The state government has denied the charge, saying all norms were followed.
Responses to two RTI applications filed by Vanashakti highlight the questionable manner in which the Kanjurmarg dumping ground was recommended for Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance by the MCZMA and confirm that there is a lack of transparency concerning the damage caused to wetlands of the Thane creek in which solid waste is being dumped.
“Even though the CRZ clearance was given in 2009, reclamation for the dumping ground was started in 2011 and dumping began in 2012. The area is an inter-tidal coastal wetland and in maps, it was classified as CRZ 3. Still, (the) corporation went on record declaring that this site was “free” from CRZ. Also, the fact that MSW rules of 2000 do not allow the use of wetlands for waste disposal was also hidden,” said Stalin D, project director, Vanashakti, adding,
Principal secretary (environment), Valsa Nair, denied the allegations. “There was an existing map based on which the authority recommended to the MoEF for clearance. All existing norms were followed while granting clearance. The chief engineer (Development Plan) of the civic body is the co-ordinating officer for preparing the new CRZ map for Mumbai, so his office is a part of the process,” she said.