Maharashtra Govt Allots Plot For Padmavati Temple On Disputed Ulwe Site

Maharashtra Govt Allots Plot For Padmavati Temple On Disputed Ulwe Site

The fresh plot at Ulwe coast is apparently next to the 40,000 sq mtr area allotted to the Venkateswara Swamy temple.

Bhalchandra ChorghadeUpdated: Thursday, March 14, 2024, 06:09 PM IST
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Maharashtra Govt Allots Plot For Padmavati Temple On Disputed Ulwe Site |

Mumbai: Even as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) to explain the basis of giving the CRZ approval for the Tirupati Balaji temple on the Ulwe coast in Navi Mumbai and has kept March 18 as the next date of hearing, the environmentalists have raised objection on the state government allotting additional plot to Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD) for Padmavati temple. The fresh plot at Ulwe coast is apparently next to the 40,000 sq mtr area allotted to the Venkateswara Swamy temple.

“The entire area is part of the temporary casting yard for the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) on intertidal wetlands, sparse mangroves and mudflats. Google earth maps of 2018, before the setting up of the casting yard, clearly showed the wetland area,” NatConnect Foundation director B N Kumar said and called for restoring the area to its original condition rather than using it for any concrete development.

“We are not against the Balaji and Padmavati temples,” NatConnect said and appealed to the government and the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) to allot a plot in a different location, other than the Ulwe coast. “Moreover, a flood hazard line runs through the plot allotted to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD),” Kumar pointed out.

“Our petition (regarding Tirupati Balaji temple) is already pending at NGT. We will raise the issue regarding allotment of plot for Padmavati temple there. The government resolution has just come out and we will take it up on March 18, when NGT will be hearing our petition,” Kumar added.

Nandakumar Pawar, head of Sagar Shakti, pointed out that the entire casting yard area was a flourishing fishing zone on which the local community thrived. The community of about 1,000 people have now lost their basic economic activity and access to the Arabian Sea with the construction of the casting yard which is out of bounds for them. Pawar demanded that the fishing zone must be restored and that CIDCO should allot another area for the temples.

In its earlier hearing, the NGT had asked the MCZMA to explain the basis of giving the CRZ approval for a Tirupati Balaji temple on the Ulwe coast. The temporary casting yard came up in 2019 and the google earth maps of 2018 clearly show a vast stretch of intertidal wetlands, fishing ponds, mudflats and even mangroves, Kumar’s application at NGT said.

This aspect of the casting yard was not taken into consideration by the MCZMA while giving the final clearance on November last, Kumar’s counsel Ronita Bhattacharya argued during the hearing. The counsel also pointed out that a map from the Maharashtra State Remote Application Centre (MRSAC) also showed the presence of mudflats in the plot allotted for the temple while the casting yard area showed wetlands.

The Bench has placed on record the applicant’s point that the use of the project site for the purpose of temporary casting yard for the MTHL has evidently resulted in construction work, felling of mangroves, reclamation and dumping of debris and landfilling of low-lying areas.

This has resulted in some of the natural characteristics of the land in question being altered and “compromised to the detriment of the ecological sensitivity of the region”, which has also resulted in the alteration of the location of the HTL in the region by approximately 5 mtrs, which, in turn, has seemingly altered the expanse of land categorized to be CRZ- I and CRZ- II areas in the region.

The western zonal bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh and expert member Dr Vijay Kulkarni pointed out that the official notification regarding CRZ clearance issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) mandates certain conditions. The notification also prescribes that the relevant project layout must be superimposed on the CRZ map duly indicating the project boundaries and the CRZ category of the project location as per the approved CZMP.

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