‘Soil pollution from Kanjur landfill killing fish less than 500m from flamingo sanctuary’ – environment


Leachate from Kanjurmarg dumping ground and stagnant water have killed fish over a two-hectare mangrove forests’ area in the eastern suburbs of Mumbai between Bhandup and Kanjur, an environmentalist group has said.

Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishthan (SEAP), the group, on Tuesday filed complaints with various state bodies and the Bombay high court-appointed wetland grievance redressal committee after a visit of the site near the Eastern Express Highway and the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary.

“Hundreds of dead fish were floating in and along the edges of the creek on Tuesday,” said SEAP chief Nandkumar Pawar. “The natural tidal flow of this mangrove stretch seems to have been blocked resulting in stagnant water. As a result, there is no fresh supply of tidewater affecting the entire biodiversity of this area.” Pawar said untreated toxic chemicals drained from the dumping ground have been killing fish after regular intervals.

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Mangrove Cell range forest officer Nathuram Kokare said an investigation into the matter would be undertaken.

Soil pollution from bio-medical waste and leachate is caused due to excess waste, especially from discarded medicines, and chemicals. Excessive amounts of trace nutrient elements and other elements including heavy metals in soil are harmful to the natural biodiversity of an area.

Kanjurmarg dumping ground

Kanjurmarg dumping ground

According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Mumbai generates 5,400 tonnes of solid and approximately 24 tonnes of biomedical waste. Of this, 60% of the waste is sent to Kanjur while the remaining to Deonar.

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“We are not dumping any garbage beyond the land [at Kanjur] belonging to us. There is no question of leachate entering the creek area. We are also taking adequate precautions. However, I will ask my team to visit the site, verify what has been happening, and submit a report to me. We have no intention of causing any environmental damage and corrective measures are being taken to see to this,” said BMC’s additional municipal commissioner, Suresh Kakani.

Stalin D, a member of the high court-appointed panel, said this is not the first time when aquatic biodiversity has been lost. “Pristine mangrove forests near the Bhandup pumping station start stinking with every high tide. The treatment facility at Kanjurmarg is woefully inadequate… leachate is regularly being leaked into the creek. It has increased much more since the landfill was expanded.”

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Scientific waste disposal is undertaken at the 121-hectare Kanjurmarg dumping ground. It is adjacent to the 1,690-hectare sanctuary but has been left out of the proposed eco-sensitive zone (buffer area).

Until earlier this year, the sanctuary was spread across 68.5 hectares but the BMC expanded the size of the landfill by acquiring an additional 52.5 hectares. The move was challenged in the high court. The petitioners argued it was done in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone norms and threatened the safety of the sanctuary.

The court allowed the expansion in December saying BMC had acquired all necessary clearances. The Supreme Court in February directed the high court to close the issue within three months, and BMC was allowed to begin dumping waste across the entire 121 hectares.

“Though Kanjurmarg landfill is actually surrounded by reserved forest. It has been carefully left out of the protected area to make way for solid waste management within an ecologically sensitive zone,” said Stalin.

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