Navi Mumbai: 'No Idea If Ulwe Casting Yard Built On Mangroves', Says State Environment Dept

Navi Mumbai: 'No Idea If Ulwe Casting Yard Built On Mangroves', Says State Environment Dept

The MCZMA had observed that the project planner needs to restrict the proposed construction in non-CRZ area as per approved CZMP, 2011.

Bhalchandra ChorghadeUpdated: Wednesday, March 27, 2024, 06:04 PM IST
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Mangroves In Navi Mumbai | X Post

In what could be termed as ‘shot in the arm’ for environmentalists in Navi Mumbai, the Environment and Climate Change department of Maharashtra Government has pleaded ignorance about the casting yard which the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) gave to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), was built on mangroves. This has raised serious questions on the allotment of land by CIDCO to MMRDA for constructing a casting yard on mangroves for Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).

Flouting the norms and order by the Bombay High Court, CIDCO allotted the land to Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD) which proposed to construct a Tirupati Venkateswara Swami Temple on a plot measuring 40,000 sq mtr in Sector 12, Ulwe.  The planning agency allotted the land along the casting yard to TTD for the temple which was opposed by the environmentalists.

In a reply to the RTI query filed by environment activist and director of NatConnect Foundation, B N Kumar, the Environment and Climate Change department said that it does not have information whether the casting yard has been built of 16 Ha of mangroves along Ulwe. “The reply clearly states that CIDCO kept Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) in the dark about casting yard aspect,” Kumar said.

CIDCO Allots 10-acre Plot In 2022 For Casting Yard To MTHL

CIDCO allotted a 10-acre plot in April, 2022 for constructing a casting yard meant for the MTHL. The casting yard itself was put up on a 16 Ha Ulwe coastal area in Navi Mumbai on a temporary basis. According to NatConnect Foundation, the place was thriving with biodiversity and a fishing zone till 2018 with tidal influential area, mudflats and sparse mangroves while the casting yard came up in 2019.

“The environment impact assessment (EIA) report of MMRDA for MTHL clearly stated that the casting yard was a temporary project. CIDCO should have cleared the temporary landfill and restored the wetlands, mudflats by allowing free flow of tidal water from the adjacent Thane creek,” Kumar said.

Inquiry Reveals Lack of Disclosure In Coastal Zone Clearance For Balaji Temple in Ulwe

CIDCO and TTD approached MCZMA for coastal zone clearance for the proposed Balaji temple in Ulwe without disclosing the facts relating to the temporary casting yard as the minutes of the MCZMA meetings do not show these aspects. NatConnect then filed an application with the state environment department under the RTI Act to know if the MCZMA was aware of the fact that the temple plot is part of the casting yard and whether the casting yard itself was built on a 16 Ha mangrove.

Since the MCZMA comes under the state environment department, the latter’s response, possessing the signature of Vishal Madane, Public Information Officer, said the land allotment is the subject matter of CIDCO and that the department has no information whether the MTHL casting yard came up on CRZ area.

NGT To Review NatConnect's Application Against MCZMA's CRZ Clearance For Balaji Temple

NatConnect's application against the MCZMA granting the CRZ nod for the temple is being heard by NGT which has already asked MCZMA to file its response showing the basis of the CRZ nod.

“The response to our RTI query shows that the MCZMA was not aware of the fact that the temple plot is part of the casting yard. Also, there is no information available at the government level that the casting yard came up in CRZ,” Kumar said.

Concerns Over CIDCO's Environmental Impact In Ulwe And MCZMA's CZMP Compliance

Another environmentalist and head of Sagar Shakti, Nandakumar Pawar, who is diligently following up the issue, said, “The Ulwe coast has been a fishing zone on which the casting yard was set up in 2019. CIDCO with no respect for the environment is now converting the temporary casting yard into a concrete jungle and we vehemently oppose this.”

The MCZMA had observed that the project planner needs to restrict the proposed construction in non-CRZ area as per approved CZMP, 2011. The members suggested that there shall not be any impact on CRZ area from the construction activities proposed in non-CRZ area.

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