Haji Ali Dargah under green scanner for releasing sewage in Arabian Sea

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Pune : The Haji Ali Dargah is now under the green scanner as a group of socially active students have filed environment interest litigation (EIL) against the illegal dumping and release of waste in the Arabian Sea. The EIL filed on 23 rd of January at the NGT west Zone Bench at Pune came up for hearing on 29 th January before Justice Jawad Rahim and taking serious cognizance of the breach of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 he
issued notices against the Haji Ali Dargah Trust and other Governmental agencies directing them to file reply before 5 th of March said Adv Asim Sarode who is representing the petitioners.

Aamir Shaikh, Deepak Chatap, Vaishnav Ingole, Revati Bagade, Shraddha
Savakhande, Rakesh Mali are all students from ILS Law college who have recently visited the Haji Ali Dargah and found the unhealthy, dirty and unhygienic situation at the Dargah area which prompted them all to file the EIL at NGT. The Haji Ali Dargah Trust, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, State Environment Department, Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai,State Level Monitoring Committee have been listed as Respondents in the EIL informed Amir
Shaikh who is one of the Applicants.

The petition mentions that by virtue of the various religious ceremonies daily being done in the Haji Ali dargah, situated in Worli, Mumbai. This historical mausoleum has been a widely renowned and often visited pilgrimage spot for scores of Muslims who frequent the dargah. 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 cloths, 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. Such is in addition to humongous quantities of human waste being discharged from the toilets in the premises of the dargah straight into the Arabian sea on a daily basis. 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 said Amir Shaikh.

Although there are in existence a number of legislations preventing such overt breach of ecological sanctity and damage to the environment, such as the Environment (Protection) Act, Solid Waste Management Rules, Costal Zone Management regulation, wetland protection Act etc., the erring parties seemingly operate with impunity. Interestingly legal luminaries like Mr. Rafique A. Latif Dada, Mr. Usman Shakoor Vanjara, and Mr. Rizwan
Merchant, as well as senior politicians and businessmen such as Mr. Abdul Sattar Merchant, Mr. Moinuddin T. Sony, and Mr. Masood Hasham Dada are on the board of trustees of the Haji Ali Dargah said Adv Asim Sarode.
It is alleged in the petition that the toilet facilities being provided inside the Dargah premises also are not maintained in a proper manner. The toilets are constructed within the premises of the Dargah and have their sewage outlets leading straight into the sea.

The toilets are built on the right side of the dilapidated structure, which has an outlet leading from the toilet, at about 10-15 feet from the sea level which releases the waste from the toilets. Owing to the fact as stated above, around 40,000 pilgrims visit the Dargah on certain days like Thursday, Friday and Sunday. It can be said with a reasonable amount of certainty that at least 25% of such individuals or 1 in every 4
individuals would make use of the toilet facilities. Thus, a probable 3,000 litres of urine/excrement is discharged from the toilet facilities into the sea on a daily basis. The ecological harm caused to marine life owing to such practice is monumental and irreparable. There is absolutely no system at this place to treat the sewage or ensure that such is not polluting the immediate surroundings.

The students while their visit to the Dargah observed huge amount of plastic waste of plastic bottles, plastic/polyethene carry bags, gutkha rappers, etc is generated. There is large amount of solid waste viz, glass bottles, used chaddar, etc observed in the premises of the Dargah and there are no effective measures for segregation and disposal of the solid waste which should be done according to the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016,
we have submitted photographs showing such pathetic and unhygienic situation at the Dargah said petitioner Amir Shaikh.

The law students demanded for urgent directions by the NGT to stop releasing
excrement, sewage water into the Arabian Sea from the toilets constructed in the Dargah premises. It is also prayed that 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, i.e. the Haji Ali Dargah Trust,the State Government Environment Department , MCZMA, Maharashtra Pollution
Control Boards, etc., to take note of their responsibilities in ensuring that the proper standards of health and sanitation are maintained said one of the petitioners Deepak Chatap.

The Petition is kept for further hearing to be held on 5 th March 2018 before the NGT Bench at Pune.