Brazen attempt by plastic mafia to grab wetlands unused bheri – Times of India

Kolkata News

KOLKATA: The East Kolkata Wetland Management Authority (EKWMA) has asked police to look into an alleged attempt to convert a fish farm — or bheri — near Bantala into a plastic waste collection centre following a written complaint from an NGO that works among fish-farm workers in the wetlands.
According to the complaint that was accompanied by photographs, trees have been axed and overgrowth has been cleared at Kari Ghosh Bheri in Dakshin Dhapa Manpur mouza in the heart of EKW — a Ramsar site — that is internationally recognized for its wise use in fish farming.
Residents of villages in Kheyadaha I & II and Tardaha gram panchayats said nearly 60 people on Friday and over 100 on Saturday descended on the bheri that has been lying unused for five years to clear the overgrowth on the land that was being used by some locals to grow vegetables.
According to the villagers, the men who had engaged the labourers were those who operated the illegal plastic stockyards along a 2.5-km stretch of Basanti Highway between Pragati Maidan fire station and Chowbagha bus stop. Following an order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) this July, Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and Kolkata Police had launched an eviction drive in August-end to clear the area of illegal encroachments. The business had thereafter shifted 2.7-km down the highway and settled on the embankment next to the stormwater canal.
“The plastic mafia operating in the region is now trying to take hold of the unused bheri. Thereafter, it will grab more land,” a local said.
Following a formal complaint by Sandeepan Biswas, president of the Society for Creative Opportunities & Participatory Eco Systems (Scope) that has been active in EKW for a decade, the EKWMA asked two police stations — Kolkata Leather Complex and Anandapur — to look into the matter. Locals said police did a round of the area on Saturday afternoon but that had not deterred those engaged in cleaning the bheri.
Land grab had increased during the lockdown with reports of another bheri being filled up. This bheri, too, is located near the one targeted now.