Mumbai: A citizen activist has been fighting with the Mumbai Port Authority (MPA) for more than a year to seek accountability for the construction and demolition debris being dumped at the historic Jamshedji Bunder Port area of Colaba.
Activist Yogesh Mandre’s clean-up endeavour started in May 2021, when he witnessed a road contractor pushing construction debris in the shore area. Since then, Mandre, an employee at a private organisation and a Member of Mumbai North Central District Forum (MNCDF), has been running between various departments to get the area cleared of waste.
“I first wrote to the Maharashtra Maritime Board, which forwarded the complaint to the port authority. Since then, I have visited the offices of MPA, BMC office and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) time and again, but there has been no progress. The port authority sent me a letter in October 2021, stating they will install CCTVs and hire a security agency to prevent such dumping, but nothing has happened,” said Mandre.
According to the response to Right to Information (RTI) filed by Mandre, a copy of which is with HT, MPA stated that there will be round-the-clock surveillance and CCTV installed in the area. The RTI did not mention anything about construction debris dumping.
HT spoke to captain Babatosh Chand, deputy conservator of Mumbai Port Trust, who had no knowledge of the letter sent by MPCB to MPA and said he will have to check. APB Mattoo, chief engineer (in-charge) at MPA informed that he is not aware because he was travelling and assured that he will “definitely look into this matter”.
Mandre said, “I have been to multiple hearings and the deputy conservator also wrote to me in October, 2021 stating there will be no further reclamation, but who is going to clear the shore filled with construction debris? I have been asked by the port authority official to not be an activist and mind my own business but someone has to protect this and I will keep following up till this is cleared. I hope after reading the report in the newspaper, the authorities will take some action.”
Currently, MPCB has written a letter to MPA asking them to investigate and take action on the matter. An official from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board said, “We sent this complaint to chief engineer, Mumbai Port Trust on August, 24, 2022, which forwarded it to the deputy conservator of Mumbai Port Authority. We have asked them to submit an Action Taken Report (ATR) to the Central Pollution Control Board and update us. We are waiting for their response. We wait 15 to 30 days and if they still don’t respond, we send them a reminder. Under Solid waste Management rules 2016, we can take action against the civic body. But this land is under Mumbai Port Authority which falls under Central Government; hence we will have to see what action can be taken.”