Nul­lahs turn into il­le­gal sand dredg­ing sites, say res­i­dents

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI MUMBAI - Pranab Jy­oti Bhuyan pranab.bhuyan@hin­dus­tan­times.com ht­for­nav­i­mum­bai@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The big nul­lahs be­tween Juina­gar and Nerul rail­way sta­tions have turned into il­le­gal sand dredg­ing sites in the past few weeks.

Sev­eral peo­ple have been dredg­ing sand from the nul­lahs and selling it in Mum­bai and Navi Mum­bai.

The city po­lice have not taken any ac­tion against the cul­prits.

With the on­set of the mon­soon, the nul­lahs are swollen and the wa­ter started car­ry­ing sand down­stream from the hills. As a re­sult, the sand, which is nor­mally found in rivers and creeks, get de­posited along the nul­lahs.

“Be­cause of vig­i­lance of the tehsil of­fi­cials and the po­lice, it is not easy to dredge sand from the creeks and rivers il­le­gally. Sand is in high de­mand in the con­struc­tion projects. Sev­eral gangs have started dredg­ing sand in the nul­lahs and selling it to de­vel­op­ers,” said Vit­thal Ka­math, an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist from Nerul. Peo­ple lift sand from a nul­lah near Juina­gar rail­way sta­tion. This has be­come ram­pant dur­ing mon­soon.

The gangs do not use dredg­ing ma­chines to avoid at­ten­tion of the lo­cal peo­ple. “They are dredg­ing sand with small equip­ment or with bare hands from the swal­low parts of the nul­lahs. We think they load it in trucks at night. The po­lice should look into the mat­ter,” Ka­math said.

“Dredg­ing of sand from the nul­lahs is as harm­ful for the en­vi­ron­ment as dredg­ing from the creeks and the rivers. The

govern­ment is also los­ing rev­enue be­cause of this,” he said.

Sweta More, 37, a lo­cal res­i­dent, said, “Sand is be­ing dredged from th­ese ar­eas dur­ing the day. It re­flects the lax at­ti­tude of the law en­force­ment agen­cies.”

Ad­hikrao Pol, se­nior po­lice in­spec­tor of Nerul po­lice sta­tion, said, “I am not aware of the il­le­gal busi­ness. I will send a team of of­fi­cers and take steps to stop this.”

Around 250 fish­er­men of Uran are fac­ing un­cer­tainty with re­spect to their liveli­hood as they are yet to get per­mis­sion from the state govern­ment for use of purse seine nets. The nets en­sure a big catch.

The fish­er­men have in­stalled purse seine nets on their boats at a cost of Rs18 lakh to Rs20 lakh. Per­mis­sion had then been sought by the fish­er­men for 250 boats from the fish­eries de­part­ment of the state govern­ment. The govern­ment had set 10 con­di­tions for per­mis­sion.

The fish­er­men op­er­at­ing from Karanja port in Uran have met the con­di­tions but are yet to re­ceive the per­mis­sion. Their busi­ness has suf­fered wait­ing for the nod.

Shiv­das Nakhva, pres­i­dent of Karanja Machchi­mar So­ci­ety, said: “The state govern­ment had banned fish­ing us­ing purse seine nets up to 12 nau­ti­cal miles which falls un­der the state govern­ment’s ju­ris­dic­tion. This af­fected hun­dreds of boats built at a cost of Rs75 lakh to Rs80 lakh. Our liveli­hood was at stake.”

He added, “Fol­low­ing ap­peals and com­plaints, the fish­eries de­part­ment had asked for ap­pli­ca­tions to be sub­mit­ted af­ter spec­i­fy­ing 10 con­di­tions. The fish­er­men from Karanja had ap­plied to the de­part­ment for fish­ing in the four months begin­ning Au­gust.”

Nakhva said that not a sin­gle fish­er­man has got the req­ui­site per­mis­sion for the boat from the de­part­ment yet.

He said, “De­spite two weeks of the fish­ing sea­son hav­ing be­gun, we have been forced to dock our boats at the port. Both own­ers and work­ers are suf­fer­ing due to this. The losses are in lakhs. If this con­tin­ues, it will not be long be­fore the fish­er­men, their fam­i­lies and the work­ers de­pen­dent on them have to starve.”

Raigad divi­sion fish­eries de­part­ment as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner Av­inash Nakhva said, “We have not yet re­ceived any ap­pli­ca­tion at Raigad district di­vi­sional of­fice.”

Nakhva said they are fol­low­ing up on the is­sue with the state govern­ment’s fish­eries de­part­ment.

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