'Check CRZ Violations In Balaji Temple Issue': Greens SOS To AP CM Chandrababu Naidu

'Check CRZ Violations In Balaji Temple Issue': Greens SOS To AP CM Chandrababu Naidu

Kumar pointed out that the temple project site is a highly ecologically sensitive zone and a flood hazard line cuts through the site.

Bhalchandra ChorghadeUpdated: Tuesday, June 18, 2024, 09:56 PM IST
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Balaji Temple Site | FPJ

Hailing Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s recent announcement to ‘cleanse’ the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD) administration, environmental activists from Mumbai have appealed to him to check the CRZ violations in the proposed Balaji temple project on Ulwe coast in Navi Mumbai.

In an SOS to Naidu, NatConnect Foundation drew his attention to the Telugu Desam Party’s spokesperson Neelayapalem Vijayakumar’s media statement in August, 2023 criticising the then state government led by Jaganmohan Reddy for hurrying up with the temple project in the face of concerns from the environmentalists. The temple administration of the TTD comes under the AP state government jurisdiction.

While NatConnect has already filed an application with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) challenging the plot allotment, the hearing on which is slated for August 30, NatConnect director B N Kumar has requested Naidu to announce withdrawal from the present Ulwe site and ask the Maharashtra CM for an alternative plot.

“There is no dearth of open plots in Navi Mumbai,” Kumar said and wondered if it is wise to build a huge temple on the Arabian Sea coast at a time when the concerns are being expressed globally over the rising sea levels which pose dangers to the coastal areas.

The Maharashtra government, through the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) has allotted in April 2022 a 40,000 sq mtr plot to TTD from the temporary casting yard built for the Atal Setu or the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL). The casting yard itself was built on the coast which used to be a fishing zone. “Even if the temple project site is landfilled to raise its height, the surrounding areas will be drowned,” NatConnect warned.

Kumar pointed out that the temple project site is a highly ecologically sensitive zone and a flood hazard line cuts through the site. Attacking the earlier administration in AP, Naidu declared earlier this week that cleansing in the state will start from Tirumala. “We hope the Naidu government will take the environmental issues seriously,” Kumar said.

The casting yard plot was allotted in 2018-19 and the satellite picture prior to that period clearly show the biodiversity nature of the area, the letter to AP Chief Minister said. “The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) simply considered the CZMP 2019 which also does not take into consideration the ground reality,” Kumar said.

A key aspect of the area is that the local fishing community has been conducting their activity here prior to the construction of the casting yard, President of Maharashtra Small Scale Traditional Fish Workers Union, Nandakumar Pawar said. Supporting NatConnect’s cause, Pawar said that the fishing community was hopeful that they could resume their activities once the Atal Setu work is completed.

“But their hopes were dashed to ground as the Venkateswara Swamy Temple Project is slated to come up in the area and the local community continues to be barred entry to the area,” he regretted.

Clarifying that neither NatConnect nor any fellow environmentalists are opposed to the temple as such, Kumar said the place of worship could be built in an environmentally safe area in Navi Mumbai itself. 

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