NAVI MUMBAI: The environmental groups’ campaign to for online meetings of the High Court appointed Mangrove and Wetlands Committees meetings has been successful as the Konkan Divisional Commissioner has called for the sessions on September 18.
NatConnect has officially learnt that the meetings will take place 12.30 pm onward on Friday.
NatConnect and Sgri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan have written to the Chief Minister and of late to the newly appointed Konkan Divisional Commissioner requesting for the online meetings as the committees have not met for about six months owing to the lockdowns.
As Annsaheb Misal took over on August 26 as the Konkan Commissioner, who also heads the HC committees, the environmental groups have sent the following mail to him:
“Hearty congratulations on your new assignment as the Konkan Divisional Commissioner.
We would like to bring to your attention to a series of environmental damages happening in eco-sensitive Uran in particular.
- There have been flagrant violations of the Environment Act in Uran and other places. We requested for a dedicated Green Police to take care of such crimes as the existing police force is hard pressed with routing crime and ill-equipped. Our proposal is pending with the Home Dept. One previous Konkan Commissioner Shri Jagdish Patil agreed to our proposal. We request you to followup and have the Green Police set up.
- Sir, Shri Patil also agreed with our suggestion to set up a Mangrove Park in Uran as an eco-tourism project and educate the people on the importance of mangroves. We request you to take up this project in the right earnest.
- The Mangrove Protection and Conservation Committee and the Wetlands committee have not met since March. We suggest immediate holding of the meetings online, take stock and take action. We are happy to note that you have planned a meeting shortly.
- Despite several orders from both Committees, there has been no action by local planner CIDCO and the district administration.
- For instance, the damage done to Pagote and Bhendkhai wetlands is yet to be corrected.
- CIDCO threw hands up in the air by saying these areas under Reliance. But CIDCO is 26% partner of NMSEZ-Reliance project that is damaging the wetlands and mangroves.
- The Committees asked CIDCO and dist admin to protect Panje wetland. The MCZMA submitted to High Court that Panje comes under CRZ-1. The Environment Minister ordered that there should be no construction at Panje. Yet, mangroves are being hacked there.
- Uran tehsildar filed FIRs against NMSEZ on December 16 in connection with the damage done to mangroves at Pagote and wetland at Bhendkhal. A thid FIR was against a truck driver for trying to dump debris at Panje.
- While the FIRs remained on paper, violations at Panje are going on relentlessly. Mangroves are being chopped.
- Earlier, before the onset of the monsoon, there have been repeated attempt to dry out Panje by blocking intertidal water flow. First, CIDCO illegally built sluice gates, NMSEZ built a massive wall around Panje. Then intermittently vested interests blocked tidal water flow.
- As a result, the bio-diversity nature has been disturbed. There was a time when close to 1,50,000 birds used to flock to this area. Now all birds including flamingos are flying helter skelter in search of proper nesting ground.
- BNHS has already cautioned that this kind of burial of wetlands is dangerous for the flights into and out of Mumbai International Airport. The wetlands, therefore, have to be protected.
- Mangrove and wetlands committees have asked CIDCO and district officials to transfer all mangrove zones to the Forest department. There has been no action yet while the mangrove destruction is going on unchecked niot only at Uran but at Ulwe, Kharghar, Mansarovar etc.,
- The Mangrove Foundation has asked for transferring six wetlands, including Belpada, Bhendkhal, Panje, Talawe, TS Chanakya and Bhadup, to it for protecting and conserving the nature. CIDCO and Thane and Raigad collectors have not taken any action on this request.
- Please impress upon these authorities to comply with the request so that the wetlands will be conserved by proper authorities.
- CIDCO, the biggest culprit as far as environment is concerned, meanwhile drew a DP (Development Plan) for Dronagiri literally gobbling up mangrove and wetlands. In CIDCO’s dictionary, no wetlands exist in Navi Mumbai despite the Raigad administration itself listing 120-odd wetlands and the mangrove/wetlands committees saying they ought to be protected.
- CIDCO’s plan, it seems, is to make every inch of land ready for real estate and just make money.
- These officers come and go. But it is the people living here who suffer. For the first time in 15-20 years, Dronagiri area’s 20 villages had floods. Five villages had unseasonal floods during the Holi festival last year. All due to the blocking of natural flow of creeks, burying wetlands and mangroves particularly in areas allotted to NMSEZ and JNPT SEZ.
- Sir, the local fishing community and farmers are the victims of this environment destruction. Hence we launched a campaign #FishingCommunityMatters. We request you, as the Konkan Divisional Commissioner, to take up Blue Economy and Mangrove-based economy and help contribute to the socio-economic development of Uran.
- We are ever willing to facilitate as catalysts.
Looking forward to an early online meeting with you to take these further.
Thanks and regards.
B N Kumar – Director, https://natconnectfoundation.com/
Nandakumar Pawar – Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan
Dilip Koli – Paaramparik Machhimar Bachao Kruti Samiti