Stoutly opposing the proposed construction of the Rs 70 crore-Tirupati Balaji temple on a CRZ and mangrove zone at Ulwe in Navi Mumbai, environmentalists have sought the High Court- appointed Mangrove Committee’s intervention to relocate the project. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis are scheduled to perform the Bhoomi Puja at 6.30 AM on June 7. The event which was to be performed in August last year was cancelled at the last minute as the locals and green groups raised objections.
NatConnect Director asks for inquiry into alleged CRZ violations
NatConnect director B N Kumar has filed a complaint with the HC panel asking for inquiry into alleged CRZ violations and killing of mangroves by the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) casting yard part of which is now allotted for the temple complex.The NGO has also pointed out in its latest missives to the Centre, the Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister as well as the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) that CIDCO had allotted the land for a particular purpose, and now that the MTHL work is complete the mangrove zone should be restored by removing the block in the free flow of intertidal water.
Moreover, following the complaints, the state environment department was supposed to have conducted an inquiry on directives from the Chief Minister and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Control (MOEFCC). “But even before we could hear anything about the findings of the inquiry, the CRZ nod for the project was sought to be rushed through a single-point agenda meeting of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) on May 23,” Kumar said.
Temple Construction would play with the ecologically sensitive area
No advance notice was given for the meeting and the agenda does not figure on the MCZMA web site as of Tuesday. The actual 167th meeting with 52 items on the agenda was supposed to have been conducted on May 16, NatConnect said Nandakumar Pawar, director of NGO Sagarshakti, said the temple project is going to play with the ecologically sensitive area. The local fishing community which has been using the area to enter the creek was prevented by the L&T casting yard for the past four to five years.
The local community was hopeful of getting back the facility now that the casting yard work is over, but shockingly the same plot was allotted for the Balaji temple, said Pawar, who also heads the Maharashtra unit of the Small-Scale Traditional Fish Workers Union. Both Kumar and Pawar said they have nothing against the temple, but it must be relocated from the mangrove zone.They pointed out that there are thick mangroves as well as intertidal waters around the casting yard area which clearly prove that it is a CRZ1 area. CIDCO cannot claim that it is a CRZ2 area by pushing the hightide line into the creek, Pawar said.It is really unfortunate that the government agency like CIDCO is blatantly violating all environment norms, Pawar regretted.