Navi Mumbai: Locals & Environmentalists Form Silent Human Chain In Protest Against Encroachments On Belapur Hill

Navi Mumbai: Locals & Environmentalists Form Silent Human Chain In Protest Against Encroachments On Belapur Hill

NatConnect filed an application under the RTI seeking information on the steps taken to save the hill.

Raina AssainarUpdated: Monday, April 29, 2024, 02:32 AM IST
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Navi Mumbai: Locals & Environmentalists Form Silent Human Chain In Protest Against Encroachments On Belapur Hill |

Navi Mumbai: Citizens and environment lovers formed a silent human chain on Sunday morning, to protest against the authority’s negligence of widespread encroachments on Belapur hill, which they said will cause landslides. With banners proclaiming ‘Save Belapur Hills’ and ‘Stop Murder of Trees’, the chain was formed near MGM Hospital junction in Belapur.

NatConnect Foundation director B N Kumar said many illegal temples have come up on the hill and despite nine-year-long alarms raised by the residents, no action has yet been taken.

Responding to Nat Connect’s complaint that the structures could weaken the hill and cause landslides in the upcoming monsoon, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has asked the Urban Development Department to investigate the issue. However, the CIDCO is yet to act decisively and NatConnect filed an application under the RTI seeking information on the steps taken to save the hill. Kumar has even alerted the CIDCO chief vigilance officer who said a committee is looking into the issue.

“It is interesting to see many housewives and children taking time out to lend a voice to the cause,” Kumar added.

Kapil Kulkarni, a resident, regretted that the encroachments are increasing by the day in the absence of any action from the CIDCO. The forest land is under CIDCO control.

“Shockingly, the illegal structures get water and power connections,” another resident, Himanshu Katkar said.

The initiative against the hill destruction taken by Kalpataru Cooperative Housing Society has gained momentum with several neighbouring society members joining the silent protest.

Dashrath Bhujbal from Hill View Row Houses Society said the hill is being severely damaged by all-round encroachments and we apprehend landslides.

The crisis dates to 2015 when the then CIDCO MD Sanjay Bhatia promised action. That was the time when the temple construction had just begun, Kulkarni said. “Now we can see at least 20 temples on the hill,” he said.

It is shocking that the top officials continue to be in a denial mode and do not seem to learn any lessons from tragedies such as the Irshalwadi landslides, said Jyoti Nadkarni of Kharghar Hill and Wetlands group.

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