The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) is sitting idle over the massive destructions of mangroves in the Gangasagar area for the past two months.
According to the complaints of the Gangasagar Bakkhali Development Authority (GBDA), formed in 2013 under the state urban development and municipal affairs (UDMA) department, local PWD authorities used soil from ‘Dheusagar’ – a mangrove preserve zone – to set up a helipad at Gangasagar for ministers and political leaders during administrative and election programmes in the island.
More than 150 mangroves that help in stabilising the coastlines and preventing embankment erosions due to waves and storms have been destroyed for setting up of the project.
In areas where mangroves have been cleared, coastal damage from hurricanes and typhoons is much more severe, environment specialists said.
By filtering out sediments, the forest also protect coral reefs and seagrass meadows from being smothered in sediments.
Expressing serious concern over the destructions of mangroves, GBDA alerted all the concerned offices starting from coastal authorities, district magistrate of South 24- Parganas, police and UDMA department at Nagorayan building at Salt Lake seeking their immediate interventions on how to save these trees that help reduce the impact of natural disasters, including tsunamis.
“I have informed the matter to all concerned administrative authorities including UDMA. It’s now their lookout to take measures,” Mr Jayanto Mondal, chief executive officer (CEO) of the GBDA told The Statesman.
Mr Mondal’s letter has prompted the UDMA to take up the matter seriously. It’s learnt that the UDMA has directed the member secretary of the WBPCB to take immediate necessary action to save mangroves in the island.
“We have forwarded the matter to the WBPCB in March asking them to take prompt steps. But we are yet to receive any report from the state pollution control board,” a source in the UDMA said.
“We will also check whether the Coastal Regulation Zone authority has given any clearance to use soil from the mangrove zone for setting up of the helipad,” the source added.
“It will be a violation of the model code of conduct of elections rules if I make any comment to the media at this time. I think our member secretary won’t also comment on the same ground even if he knows about the issue,” Dr Kalyan Rudra, chairman of the WBPCB said when contacted.