Mumbai: Close on the heels of Bandra residents opposing plans for a cement mixing plant in Bandra Reclamation by APCO Infra Ltd for its Bandra Versova Sea link project, another Bandra project has been hit by a controversy.
Activists have alleged that Larsen & Toubro, which has been awarded the contract for a large Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at Bandra Reclamation by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), has illegally cut as many as 50 full grown trees at the site.
This project is one of the seven STP plants for which work will be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit on Jan 19. These plants are being set up as a part of the MCGM’s ambitious Rs26,000-crore Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project.
Spokesman for L&T did not respond to queries from the Free Press Journal. Assistant Municipal Commissioner of H-West ward Vinayak Vispute, too, did not respond to queries.
Cutting trees without the MCGM’s permission is a serious offence. A local resident, Neela Shinde, who lives in the last building at the Reclamation said, “I had recently gone to Pune. When I returned, I could see that much of the area had been cleared of trees.”
Another resident observed on condition of anonymity, “Work on the plant is to be inaugurated by the PM in a few days and it’s shocking that L&T has chopped off the trees without sanction from the MCGM.”
It is learnt that NGO Mazi Mumbai has complained to BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal with evidence of the trees being chopped to set up a project office. It has also submitted evidence of dense tree cover earlier from Google Earth and asked for filing of FIR and action against L&T and MCGM officials for allowing this illegality.
There are several more trees at the site and tree-lovers are worried that they may also be uprooted. They feel that the trees ought to have been transplanted and L&T should have been asked to undertake compensatory afforestation as per rules.
When the Free Press Journal visited the site, which is not far away from the BEST depot, workers could be seen clearing the area of cut branches and cleaning up the place in preparation for the PM’s programme on Jan 19.
Similar to APCO, it is learnt from sources that L&T too has plans to set up its own cement plant at the project site. This has already given rise to concerns about air pollution. A local organisation, BRAVO, had earlier protested against APCO’s plant and had even threatened to move the high court.
Sources revealed there have been complaints against L&T for allowing illegal forest fires to burn the green cover to clear the project site area, for which the Fire Brigade had to be called.