Pune: The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) west zone bench on Monday issued notices to the Haji Ali Dargah Trust and other government agencies, directing them to file their replies over alleged dumping and release of waste into the Arabian Sea.
The notices were issued following an Environment Interest Litigation (EIL) filed on January 23 by a group of students from the city-based ILS Law College. “The matter came up for hearing before Justice Jawad Rahim and, taking serious cognisance of the breach of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, he issued notices directing them to file replies before March 5,” said advocate Asim Sarode, who is representing the petitioners.
Aamir Shaikh, Deepak Chatap, Vaishnav Ingole, Revati Bagade, Shraddha Savakhande and Rakesh Mali are the students who recently visited the Haji Ali Dargah and found the area unhealthy, dirty and unhygienic, which prompted them to file the EIL.
Shaikh (23) said, “The Haji Ali Dargah Trust, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, State Environment Department, Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and State Level Monitoring Committee have been listed as respondents in the EIL.”
According to the petition, about 30,000 people visit the dargah in Worli, Mumbai. However, perhaps owing to the sacrosanct nature of the religious tomb, the transgressions with regards to maintenance of a minimum standard of cleanliness and hygiene have not yet been made a focal point of any serious mitigating action, whether legal or social.
“The various ceremonial paraphernalia, such as the various clothes, flowers, incense sticks, etc. are being brazenly and routinely disposed off in the Arabian Sea, as well as all along the nearly kilometer-long approach road leading to the dargah, which is situated in the midst of the Arabian Sea. This is in addition to human waste being discharged from the toilets in the premises of the dargah. This effluent and discharge forms part of the same water in which children are witnessed playing, thereby being seriously deleterious to the health and safety of those visiting the dargah, in addition to damaging the marine life and ecology of the sea,” the petition states.
Petitioner Chatap added, “We have demanded urgent directions by the NGT to stop releasing excrement and sewage water into the Arabian Sea from toilets constructed in the dargah premises. We also prayed for strict regulation of the solid waste being dumped in and around the premises of the dargah, including into the Arabian Sea, as well as for making liable the parties responsible for monitoring and regulation.”
Meanwhile, Suhail Khandwani, a trustee of the dargah, said, “We are yet to receive the notice from NGT and will comment once we get it.”