Navi Mumbai: Recheck CRZ Status Of Balaji Temple Plot, Centre Tells MCZMA

Navi Mumbai: Recheck CRZ Status Of Balaji Temple Plot, Centre Tells MCZMA

NatConnect and Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan have brought it to the notice of the Centre and the State governments that the temple plot is carved out of a temporary casting yard that was built for the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).

Amit SrivastavaUpdated: Friday, September 29, 2023, 11:49 PM IST
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FPJ

Responding to the fresh evidence of alleged environmental violations in the allotment of a plot for the Tirupati Venkateswara Swamy temple in Navi Mumbai, the Centre and the Chief Minister have once again directed the Environment Department to check the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) status of the project site at Ulwe.

NatConnect and Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan have brought it to the notice of the Centre and the State governments that the temple plot is carved out of a temporary casting yard that was built for the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).

The casting yard itself came up on a 20-hectare reclaimed area that included 16-hectare mangrove land, the green groups pointed out producing documents from Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO).

Demand for an alternative plot

“We, therefore, requested the government to allot an alternative plot for the temple and restore the mangroves, wetland and mudflats,” Kumar said.

Responding to the appeal with fresh evidence of official documents, T K Singh, an official from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) has asked the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) to probe into the issues raised by NatConnect and take appropriate steps.

The Chief Minister’s Office on its part directed the environment and urban development departments to investigate.

“During the visit to the site, we clearly saw the presence of mangroves around the plot. On cross-checking the site with Google Earth, maps also showed that the area was full of mangroves, wetlands and mudflats in 2019,” Kumar said. The casting yard was commissioned in September 2019.

Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, pointed out that the study of the maps shows that the temple site is within 41 metres of mangroves on one side and 42 metres on another side. The area of 50 metre from mangroves is an eco-sensitive buffer zone and it falls under CRZ1 on which no construction can take place, Pawar explained.

"Site surrounded by intertidal wetland & mangroves"

Moreover, he said, the site is surrounded by intertidal wetland and mangroves which CIDCO chose to conveniently ignore.

Citing the environment impact assessment report submitted to the MOEFCC by the MMRDA for the casting yard, NatConnect argued that the reclamation was supposed to be a temporary measure. The biodiversity area ought to be restored by removing all the obstacles like the construction material and landfill, but shockingly CIDCO chose to allot part of the area for the temple, the environment group said.

The MCZMA which gave conditional CRZ nod for the project did not consider the casting yard aspect as the minutes reflect, Kumar said.

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