Navi Mumbai: Temporary Landfill Made Permanent Reclamation For Balaji Temple, Green Activists Cry Foul

Navi Mumbai: Temporary Landfill Made Permanent Reclamation For Balaji Temple, Green Activists Cry Foul

Gross violations in allotment of casting yard to TTD since it was not mentioned in the MCZMA Minutes of Meeting , say green activists.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Saturday, August 12, 2023, 09:35 PM IST
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Mumbai: The Tirupati Balaji temple is coming up at Ulwe in Navi Mumbai amid gross environmental violations as CIDCO converted a temporary landfill on 16 hectares of mangroves and a vast stretch of intertidal wetland into a permanent reclamation, groups have alleged.

Armed with “fresh evidence” NatConnect Foundation and Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan have written to the to the Centre and the State Governments that the environmental clearance for the casting yard has been given as a purely temporary measure for the MTHL (Mumbai Trans Harbour Link).

“Various documents such as the CRZ clearance, the Rapid EIA done by MMRDA and the supplement EIA document by the project financer JICA also confirm the fact that the casting yard at the Nhava end of the MTHL, which falls under Ulwe node, mentioned the diversion of 16 hectares mangroves and work on CRZ2 area as well” said NatConnect Foundation director B N Kumar.

He pointed out that CIDCO itself announced in its Press Release on April 2, 2022 clearly mentioned that the proposed temple is part of the land leased out to MMRDA for the casting yard. And MMRDA had agreed to vacate this part by September 2023.

Green activists demand alternate plot for temple

“This is a gross violation and, therefore, we requested the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) to revoke the environmental clearance and asked the State government to allot an alternative plot for the Balaji temple,” he alleged.

“We have no objection to the temple as such, but it should not play with the environment,” Kumar said.

The EIA submitted by MMRDA states that Casting yard on Navi Mumbai side consists of CRZ I (all of Mangroves) 16.15 Ha, CRZ II 2.82 Ha, CRZ-II 2.99 Ha CRZ-IV 1.99 Ha.

Since the permitted work was of temporary nature, it would have been only proper to restore the wetland and mangrove zone and not convert it into a permanent reclamation, Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan said.

Land allocation for temple was hidden in Minutes of Meeting

Referring to the CRZ clearance granted for the temple project by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) for the temple in its meeting of May 23, 2023, Kumar pointed out that the minutes of the meeting do not mention that the TTD plot is part of a temporary casting yard. “Obviously, this part was hidden,” the activist said, calling for revoking the permission.

The minutes, which have been just uploaded on the Authority’s site, say that of the 40,000 sq mtr plot for the temple, 2748.18 ha fall under CRZ1A, 25,656.58 ha in CRZ2 while 11,595 sq mtr is outside CRZ.

A site inspection conducted following a directive from Regional Forest Officer, Mangrove Conservation cell – Mumbai, clearly showed that the temple site was previously a wetland area.

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