Large portions of mangroves and the natural flow of the Taloja river have fallen prey to sledging and dredging activities taking place in broad daylight.
Large portions of mangroves and the natural flow of the Taloja river have fallen prey to sledging and dredging activities taking place in broad daylight. With no legal watchdog to monitor the illegal sand mining practices in the riverbed, local activists claim that there is no end to the malpractices affecting the river and its vicinities.
A large potion of the riverbed, in the Kharghar section of the Taloja river, located opposite Vastu Vihar Road has apparently been affected by sand-mining activities. The traditional fishermen in the vicinity, dependent on the river for their daily catch, pointed out that in spite of numerous complaints, neither government officials nor local police officers have taken any action to contain the sand mafia working in the belt.
Apparently, the activities have not only wiped out a large section of mangroves from the riverbed, but have also changed the original flow of the river, transforming it into different sections in which systematic sand mining is taking place.
Moreover, fishermen, on the condition of anonymity, claimed that while the spot is right opposite the Sion Panvel Highway, no police intervention takes place even though the illegal activities are carried out round the clock. “Even the fishermen were involved in sand-mining and would take away sand for household purposes, but after a while, the police started taking strict action against all these activities. Earlier, the policemen often charged the women who would cut mangroves for firewood. But now, there are huge machines for dredging and truckloads of sand is taken out of the river even as we speak,” said a fisherman.
Sandeep Bangia from Navi Mumbai Environment Protection Society said that the issue has never come to light due to the spot being practically inaccessible for residents. “Belapur or Nerul authorities are more vigilant about these matters as the residents there report such incidents when they spot the same. But Kharghar, being slightly secluded, is lacking in the vigilance department. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the officials to intensify patrolling in such areas to stop the environment from being destroyed,” said Mr Bangia.