Nullahs turn into illegal sand dredging sites, say residents
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.