‘Beware of Himalayan scale disaster in Uran’
Greens raise Red signal to realtors & home buyers as Panje holding pond is being buried
Mr Rajiv Talwar, Chairman – NAREDCO
Mr Niranjan Hiranandani – National President – NAREDCO
Mr Satish Magar, National President - CREDAI
Mr Deepak Goradia – President – MCHI CREDAI
Mr Rajesh Prajapati – Founder President – MCHI CREDAI, Raigad
And all home & Commercial space buyers
We are happy to see that the realtors have been able to generally withstand the COIVID shock and are on their way to recovery.
This open letter is being floated with the specific purpose of drawing your attention to the impending ecological disasters of Himalayan scale in Uran, Dronagiri in particular.
There is a general wrong impression that environment activists are anti-development. We are not opposed to development and building homes, but the developers and buyers must beware of future shocks such as unseasonal floods.
Don’t forget the massive floods in Himalayas, Kerala, Mumbai and in Kalyan where the authorities neglected environmental aspects while allowing development.
We are not exaggerating. Please consider these irrefutable facts:
The authorities have collectively failed to protect the Panje wetland from landfill and blocking tidal water inlets.
CIDCO is developing Dronagiri on as many as 2,740 and the area which is below the sea level, requires landfill of more than three metres.
As part of the flood control mechanism, CIDCO designated two places – 289-hectare Panje and the free-flowing waterbody near Karanja jetty – as Holding Ponds.
The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) informed Bombay High Court that these two Holding Ponds fall under CRZ-1 due to the presence of mangroves.
Moreover, CIDCO itself admitted in an affidavit to Bombay High Court that Panje is a holding pond.
Yet the authorities collectively failed to protect the Panje wetland from continuous damage.
Information obtained via the RTI route clearly shows that the villages in Dronagiri node did have any history of floods for the past two decades.
But some villages and paddy fields are already being inundated as tidal water has been forced to find its course due to massive landfill on wetlands in the name of infrastructure development.
Following complaints from environment NGOs Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray banned any construction at Panje on March 4, 2019, while Environment Director Narendra Toke, in his letter to the Collector in November last, took a serious view of blocking all five tidal water inlets.
The government specifically ordered the Raigad Collector to have the water blockade cleared and demolish the illegal boundary wall built by NMSEZ.
Even the High Court appointed Mangrove Protection Committee ordered the Collector and CIDCO to maintain Panje as a wetland though it has not been designated as wetland but has all the characteristics of being one.
What is more, the environment minister himself called for protecting even the water bodies which do not have the official wetland tag.
Yet, the intermittent landfill continues, water flow is blocked and the Panje holding pond-cum-wetland is rendered dry. This is impacting the area’s bio-diversity and making thousands of birds fly helter-skelter.
It is just not about the birds and bio-diversity, it is about protecting human lives and property as well.
Hence, we seek involvement of all of you in saving the holding pond.
As recent as on January 31, an environmental sub-committee appointed by the HC panel, asked Uran tehsildar to ensure water flow to Panje. But these too went unheeded.
Another shocking aspect is that CIDCO has leased out most of the 289-hectare Panje wetland to Navi Mumbai SEZ though the planning authority is supposed to save it as a holding pond. The wetland has now been earmarked as Sectors 16 to 28 under the Dronagiri Development Plan.
The DP does not have MCZMA clearance. It cannot.
Hope you will take these pointers seriously and join us in protecting the Panje Holding pond and halting construction.
From buyers’ perspective, the caution is please do not ignore the ground realities – basically two: Dronagiri is under sea level and its needs flood control mechanism cannot be destroyed.
Else, be prepared to spend your life in floods, and make traditional communities living there suffer endlessly.
The officials who allot plots and clear plans may go away on another posting, but it is the people who live here have to suffer - as it happened in Mumbai, Badlapur, Kalyan, Shil Phata.
Officials do not seem to have anything to do with the environment and the people. They just do their jobs, meant to derive salaries from tax payers’ money. And try their best to cover up the crimes by giving misleading reports.
B N Kumar, Director - NatConnect Foundation
Nandakumar Pawar, Head – Shri Ekvira Aai Prarishtan
Dilip Koli – Paaramparik Machhimar Bachao Kruti Samiti