Greens ask Govt, builders to save hills, mangroves

Raising yet another alarm against all round environment degradation, activists have asked the state and local governments to work together to maintain ecological balance while undertaking development projects.

Pointing out that the reckless quarrying of Parsik Hills for stone chips for the entire Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) has dealt an irreparable damage to the once picturesque range, environment NGO Shree Ekavira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP) and communicators body Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) have  called for finding out alternative sites.

“Development is must to meet the rising demands of urbanization, but we should ensure that environment is protected at the same time,” they said in a joint communiqué to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

PRCI has already suggested a cooperative federation structure, on the lines of the successful dairy cooperatives, to collect stones from all across the State and distribute to contractors and developers. The Nagpur-based Directorate of Geology and Mining could assess the availability of mineable areas in the State basis which the government may allocate the areas for digging out stones. This has to be done keeping in mind over all environmental impact, social communication activist B N Kumar, who is also the governing council chairman of Public Relations Council of India (PRCI), said.

In their email to the Chief Minister, SEAP and PRCI also drew his attention to the wanton damage being done to wetlands and mangroves in MMR, particularly in Uran in the name of land filling for JNPT’s SEZ. The forest department has already confirmed the killing of over 4,550 mangrove plants on 4.5 hectares.

There has been a widespread dumping of debris along the creek, on wetlands and even ponds, they said and the innumerable so- called warnings have fallen on deaf ears, they said.

“It is in this context that we request the government to get firm and impress upon developers and transporters to go for responsible dumping,” they said.

Debris is the invariable byproduct of any construction and its disposal should be done scientifically. The government, with urban planners at its command, should identify sites for dumping the debris in a planned manner. For instance sites for landfill, abandoned quarries and so on could be chosen, the mail to the Chief Minister said.

But at the same time, said the email, the landfill policy also needs immediate attention, the pointed out. For instance, the landfill at Uran is unwarranted. The work on JNPT SEZ must be stopped forthwith. JNPT, if at all is keen to develop its SEZ, could take over the NMSEZ in its neighbourhood where practically nothing is happening.

Moreover, the landfill, by killing thousands of mangroves is causing tremendous harm to the environment as the coastline will be in for erosion. Local fishermen are being deprived of the lone source of living as the fishing areas are vanishing. This is also causing harm to flamingo points.

Environment degradation should be of prime concern of every citizen and the government, the missive added.