Navi Mumbai: To save Panje wetland, environmentalists threaten contempt case

NGT orders, government directives openly flouted, they allege

Amit SrivastavaUpdated: Monday, March 28, 2022, 09:54 AM IST
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Representative Image | Pixabay

Environmentalists are contemplating contempt of court petition against the government officials for their failure to protect the Panje wetland in Uran even after more than a month of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ruling.

The NGT on February 23 confirmed the wetland status of Panje intertidal zone and dismissed all objections by CIDCO and NMSEZ.

“The illegal security cabins erected by the de-notified Navi Mumbai SEZ are yet to be removed while the guards continue to block the entry of nature lovers and local fishing community,” said B N Kumar Director of NatConnect Foundation, adding that he has complained to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

The NGT had upheld Environment Director Narendra Toke’s order dated November 11, 2020 to the Raigad district administration, CIDCO and NMSEZ calling for immediate demolition of the security cabins, while restoring the free flow of tidal water into the wetland.

Nandakumar Pawar, petitioner at NGT, said the flouting of the Tribunal’s order shows the “arrogance and reckless behaviour” of bureaucrats who remained unconcerned. "We request the Chief Minister and the Environment Minister to quickly intervene and declare Panje as a conservation property and save the wetland," he said and expressed the hope that the activists will not be forced to file the contempt petition.

NMSEZ must be asked to vacate the wetland, NatConnect said and wondered as to why should the commoners be forced to keep running to courts for making the officials act as per rules.

In response to NatConnect mail earlier, Thackeray had asked the forest and environment department secretaries to take further action, but surprisingly no action has been taken by any authority so far, Kumar regretted.

In his fresh missive to the CM, Kumar asked if the people will have to silently witness the destruction of environment as the de-notified NMSEZ planned real estate project on the wetland.

As per the latest National Wetland decadal Change Atlas uploaded by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Control (MOEFCC) clearly shows the intertidal zone with mangroves and mudflats.

In response to NatConnect mail, the Ministry Scientist Dr M Ramesh has also asked the Maharashtra State Wetland Authority and the environment department to respond on “priority”, yet there seems to be no movement, Kumar regretted.

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