Environmentalists from Navi Mumbai are up in arms against the alleged inaction on part of the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) in transferring the Chanakya Lake, situated behind TS Chanakya off the arterial Palm Beach Road.
The lake is a protected area as per the order of the Bombay High Court. Tidal-affected, Chanakya Lake covering an area of 14.74 Ha and the surrounding mangroves come under the jurisdiction of CIDCO. Despite the Bombay High Court directing CIDCO to transfer all the mangroves in its possession to the Mangroves cell of the Forest Department, CIDCO has so far refused to do so and is now flouting the High Court's order by expressing its desire to allot it to private builders and developers, environmentalists say.
Regrettably, despite being a protected area, CIDCO has deliberately neglected the maintenance and safety of Chanakya Lake. As a local planning authority, the maintenance system has not been handed over to the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, they say and added that security personnel of a renowned developer have now started patrolling the area, informing locals and fishermen that Chanakya Lake has been sold for the construction of hotels and residential towers.
Over 100 trees felled in December
In the second week of December 2023, more than 100 mangrove trees along the Chanakya Lake were mercilessly cut down by unknown persons during the night. The incident took place near the resting place of flamingos and other migratory birds in Chanakya Lake. Nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts from the satellite city are deeply saddened by the destruction.
Despite filing complaints with the Mangroves Cell and the Mangroves Protection and Conservation Committee, the authorities are busy passing the matter from one organization to another. This led to the first protest by the activists under the banner of Save Navi Mumbai Environment and Environment Life Foundation on December 24, 2023.
Protesters to continue agitation
The two major demands include protection of the TS Chanakya lake as ordered by the Bombay High Court and registration of cases against those responsible for the destruction of mangroves. The protestors have expressed their determination to continue their agitation till their demands are met.
"The area is a protected wetland and a very important bird habitat. The city of Navi Mumbai has been declared as Flamingo City, but if the natural habitat of flamingos is not protected, this declaration will remain only on paper. For this, the Metropolitan Municipality needs to make special efforts," said Rohit Joshi, Member of the Watershed Committee, Thane.
All efforts to contact CIDCO officials proved futile.