Navi Mumbai: CIDCO Faces Backlash For Continuing Soil Testing On Contested CRZ Plot In Nerul Despite NGT Orders

Navi Mumbai: CIDCO Faces Backlash For Continuing Soil Testing On Contested CRZ Plot In Nerul Despite NGT Orders

CIDCO received a clear directive: to not sell, transfer, or grant any leasehold of the plot for residential or commercial construction.

Bhalchandra ChorghadeUpdated: Tuesday, January 30, 2024, 12:31 AM IST
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CIDCO Bhavan in Navi Mumbai | File

In a significant development, the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) has suspended soil testing on Plot No 2A in Nerul, Navi Mumbai. The 25,000 sq meter plot, situated in Sector 54, 56, and 58, falls under Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). Residents voiced objections to CIDCO's auctioning of the plot, despite an interim order from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on August 22, 2022, instructing CIDCO not to proceed with the tendering process.

The environment-conscious residents of Navi Mumbai had challenged the auction of the plot and to prevent CIDCO from disposing of it in any manner.

NGT's final order

In the final order dated October 11, 2023, the NGT noted that the plot falls within CRZ-IA and CRZ-II, rendering any construction activity prohibited under the CRZ Notification, 2011. CIDCO received a clear directive: to not sell, transfer, or grant any leasehold of the plot for residential or commercial construction. The NGT suggested that the area can be used as a garden or a social facility as per the draft development plan prepared by the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC).

“CIDCO has filed a review application before the NGT seeking a review of the said order, which will be heard on April 2, 2024. Since no interim orders have been passed in the matter, the final order dated October 11, 2023 continues to be in operation. In spite of this, on January 24, 2024, it was observed that boring/drilling activities are being undertaken on the disputed plot for soil testing. Upon inquiring with the labourers who were carrying out the drilling, it was learnt that this is being done on the instructions of CIDCO,” the activists said.

Close to 350 residents raised the issue

Navi Mumbai resident Rekha Sankhla said that close to 350 residents took proactive measures to raise the issue and asked CIDCO as to why it rushed any activity on the disputed plot since their review petition is still pending with the NGT?

The labourers have dug up till 7 meters and it is learnt that they intend to drill further, up to 10 metres or more, until they find a sample of stable rock. “However, the work has stopped now and it seems the labourers have found the rock,” Sankhla added.

CIDCO's contractor shared a copy of a map indicating plans for construction on the plot. Incidentally, this map corresponds with the one contested before the NGT, heightening concerns about potential violations of the NGT's order.

B N Kumar, Director of NatConnect Foundation, expressed strong reservations about CIDCO's approach to developing CRZ-dominated plots. He urged CIDCO to exercise caution, particularly considering the NGT's rejection of developing CRZ-II areas. Kumar highlighted the NGT's suggestion to allocate the plot for civic amenities, aligning with NMMC's development plan.

The CIDCO's actions, including the continuation of soil testing before the review hearing, have faced criticism from environmental groups. All attempts to seek comments from CIDCO officials were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.

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