Navi Mumbai: Proposed Tourism Zone Near Airport Site Will Disturb Ecological Balance

Navi Mumbai: Proposed Tourism Zone Near Airport Site Will Disturb Ecological Balance

Activists raise alarm citing potential damage to biodiversity due to prior Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violations; tourism dept says policy is expected to be tabled before state cabinet soon for approval.

Bhalchandra ChorghadeUpdated: Wednesday, March 13, 2024, 08:17 AM IST
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Navi Mumbai International Airport |

Navi Mumbai: A day after the state government announced its plan to set up a dedicated tourism zone near the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA), environment activists and NGOs in the satellite city have said that it will disturb the biodiversity of the area which has already been damaged due to violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules.

The ‘tourism zone’ located near Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, and Raigad, will encompass a combination of amusement parks, hotels, restaurants, hotel management and training institutes, as well as various ancillary activities.

While it is one of the provisions in the draft tourism policy for Maharashtra that is expected to be tabled before the state cabinet soon, the state tourism department has chosen the location since it is part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and is considered as the next growth hub.

According to tourism department officials, the draft policy includes provisions for allocating nearly 1,000 acres of land near the proposed NMIA. It will have hotels, entertainment facilities, amusement parks and tourism-related activities. The zone will also have a hotel management and training institute to focus on skill development.

The draft policy also consists of experimental tourism activities such as rural tourism, adventure tourism, community tourism and wellness tourism. It includes a single-window clearance for the hospitality sector. “While the stakeholder consultations have been completed, the draft policy will be tabled before the state cabinet soon for approval,” the officials added.

“The massive landfill on mangroves, the flattening of solid rock hills and the diversion of natural rivers into one channel are bound to play havoc with nature,” NatConnect director B N Kumar cautioned. “We are not opposed to any development including a tourism park,” Kumar said and argued that such projects should be well thought-out keeping the ongoing environmental degradation in mind.

“Infrastructure projects such as the airport, the JNPA SEZ and the unchecked quarrying have already done a big damage to the environment and the area cannot bear the brunt of further projects,” Kumar said and requested the government to call for a scientific and environment impact assessment studies before carrying out any such projects anywhere, including the airport area.

Founder of Save Navi Mumbai Environment Protection Group, Sunil Agrawal, said, “We already have a ‘tourism park’ in Panvel. For going to the expressway using the airport road, one has to pass through Panvel with orchestra bars in every nook and corner. I wish the government first solves this problem of dance bars mushrooming in Panvel, creating a very bad impression about the city before proposing any tourism zone.”

As per the India Tourism Statistics-2022 report, Maharashtra had 43.57 million domestic tourists visiting and 190,000 foreign tourists in 2021, as against 39.23 million domestic tourists and 1.26 million foreign tourists in 2020. The report ranked Maharashtra fifth in domestic tourist visits and second in foreign tourist visits in 2021.

The ‘Economic Survey of Maharashtra 2022-23’ notes that the state is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, offering a diverse range of experiences—beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations, natural caves, waterfalls, forts, ancient pilgrimage shrines, museums and historical monuments.

Draft Policy

The draft tourism policy proposes allocating nearly 1,000 acres of land near the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport for the tourism zone.

The planned tourism zone includes hotels, entertainment facilities, amusement parks, and tourism-related activities. It also features a hotel management and training institute focusing on skill development.

The draft policy introduces experimental tourism activities such as rural tourism, adventure tourism, community tourism, and wellness tourism.

The policy includes a provision for a single-window clearance for the hospitality sector, streamlining the approval process for tourism-related projects.

Stakeholder consultations for the draft tourism policy have been completed, and the policy is expected to be presented to the state cabinet soon for approval.

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