Finally, the wait is over for realty and infrastructure developers in Thane, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified 0 (zero) to 3.89 km around the boundary of Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ). The ESZ shall be to the extent of 0 to 3.89 km around the boundary of Thane Creek flamingo sanctuary, spanning 48.305 sq km.
The zone is limited to zero km around the boundary of the sanctuary at locations which are at the intersection of the highly urbanised areas of Mumbai and Navi Mumbai and close to Thane. With this notification, nearly 500-plus realty projects worth Rs 5 lakh crore in Thane, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai as also a couple of infrastructure projects including the metro are expected to take off. Construction activities within a 10km-radius of the boundaries of the flamingo sanctuary were not permitted till the Centre issued a final notification.
A gazette notification was issued by the ministry on October 14 after considering the suggestions and objections received to the draft. The proposed ESZ boundary extends to the limit of mangroves on the western side of the sanctuary and the entire width of the Thane Creek and adjoining Navi Mumbai mangrove area on the eastern side (notified and un-notified).
CREDAI-MCHI President Deepak Goradia told The Free Press Journal, “Many large projects across Thane, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai were stuck because of the lack of clarity of ESZ. In the final notification, the Centre has defined ESZ that will now help the completion of nearly 500-plus projects and will lead to the revival of the realty sector, the state’s economy and the creation of jobs.”
According to the notification, on the southern side, the boundary of the sanctuary borders the Sion-Panvel Highway and farther south is the commercial part of the Thane creek, which does not add any value to the sanctuary. On the northern side, the ESZ is limited to 2.2 kilometres and includes the northern part of the Thane creek and mangrove patches on the government land.
The notification empowers the Maharashtra government to prepare a zonal master plan within two weeks, in consultation with the local people, as also the departments of environment, forest and wildlife, urban development, tourism as also municipal, the PWD and the State Pollution Control Board.
It clarifies that the zonal master plan shall not impose any restrictions on the approved existing land use, infrastructure and activities.
NAREDCO Vice Chairman Niranjan Hiranandani said, “The industry welcomes the much-awaited notification issued by the Union Government on Flamingo Sanctuary. This will certainly enable several public and private development including significant government projects like the metro.’’
However, Stalin D, director of the NGO Vanashakti, called the notification a terrible joke. “Navi Mumbai mangroves have been left out and have not even been declared as reserve forests. The salt lakes on the landward side have been left out too. Only part of the Thane creek mangroves, which are reserve forests, had been included in the ESZ,’’ he said.
As per the notification, no construction is allowed on hill slopes, all new and existing mining activities are prohibited, new industries and expansion of existing polluting industries banned, major hydro-electric projects banned, the use and production of hazardous substances prohibited and new commercial construction prohibited within one kilometre of the boundary of protected area of economic sensitive zone.
As reported by the FPJ, Union Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav had, on September 25, told former CM Devendra Fadnavis that a final notification would be issued soon.