Navi Mumbai: The construction of a ready-mix concrete plant at a quarry site in the Parsik Hills has raised many an eyebrow since such work is not permissible in forest areas, environmentalists said.
The Forest department has given over 138 hectares in Parsik Hill to CIDCO for quarrying and resettling the project-affected people for the lands taken over 50 years ago for Navi Mumbai development. The quarrying has been stopped five years following a ruling by the National Green Tribunal stipulating environmental clearance for digging the hills.
While the machines at 102 quarries have fallen silent, the work on an RMC plant at M G Nagar quarry site has caught the attention of environmentalists, said B N Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation.
Terming it as a very serious issue, Kumar has questioned the Forest department as to how this activity could be allowed. He also complained to the Chief Minister to look into the construction of a pucca concrete structure and order a survey of all the quarry sites to check if there are any more violations.
Workers on the site said stones and cement would be brought from outside and mixed here.
'Save Parsik Hill' campaign launched
“This is utter nonsense,” said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan which along with NatConnect had launched the “Save Parsik Hills” campaign against the quarries polluting the city. The Forest department’s order while allowing the quarries was very clear and no other activity should be permitted, he said.
Kumar and Pawar have expressed the shock that the activity happening in broad daylight has so far gone unnoticed by the authorities.
The hills have become weak due to the continuous blasting and the ecology and biodiversity of the belt have suffered a big loss, said Vishnu Joshi of the Parsik Greens forum.
Whoever is permitting the RMC and other activities is playing with nature, Joshi said.
Environmentalists have also wondered if the RMC plant is a precursor to the resumption of quarries which has been opposed tooth and nail by many, including Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) which had in fact filed an affidavit to this effect at the NGT five years ago.
Forest officials' statement
When contacted, a senior forest official said the area is under CIDCO control. It has been given to CIDCO for the limited purpose of quarrying. "Forest teams will check if there are any violations and we shall take it up with CIDCO", the official said, requesting not to quote him.
Meanwhile, NatConnect has taken up the issue with the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change seeking their intervention.
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