Thursday, February 02, 2023
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These Deewars Must Go; Obstruct fishing boats, kill mangroves

Coastal Zone violations galore

NatConnect Foundation

MCZMA has already submitted to Bombay High Court that both the holding ponds fall under CRZ-1 due to the presence of dense mangroves

NAVI MUMBAI: Seeking justice for nature, the fishing community and farmers, environmentalists have called for scrapping the man-made obstructions to the free flow of tidal water at the two holding ponds in Dronagiri in Uran across Mumbai harbour.

On the one hand the 70 sluice gates near the Holding Pond-2 off Karanja Coastal Road have been restricting the free flow of water to mangroves, while on the other destruction of the sea plants is on for construction in violation of the environmental norms, NatConnect Foundation and Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan have informed the Chief Minister calling for a high-level probe.

“There does not seem to be any progress on our repeated complaints against the chopping of mangroves and construction at Holding Pond-2, except that the State Environment Department has asked the district coastal zone committee to look into it,” said B N Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation.

After much pressure, the 72 gates at the Holding Pond-1 at Panje have now been kept open, but the wall across the creek continues to block the free flow of water to mangroves and the wetland and hinder fishing boat movement, Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, said.

The Hanuman Koliwada Gram Panchayat has recently passed a resolution appealing to the government to demolish the wall at Panje/Bori Pakhadi wetland to restore the movement of fishing boats, village sarpanch Parmanand Patil said.

The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has already submitted to Bombay High Court that both the holding ponds fall under CRZ-1 due to the presence of dense mangroves and as such there can be no construction there, Pawar said.

In response to RTI queries, the MCZMA has also clarified that it has not given any permission for building the walls across the creek.

The man-made walls across the creek must be demolished as they hinder the survival of mangroves which are much needed for protecting the upcoming Dronagiri node as well as the existing villages, Kumar and Pawar said in their letter to the CM.

Dilip Koli of traditional fishing community Paaramparik Machhimar Bachao Kruti Samiti said “We used to row out boats freely into the sea and back before the Panje wall in 2005-06 and the Karanja bund in 2015-16.” “Now, we have nowhere to go and no one cares for our interests,” he said.

The stopping of tidal flow, coupled with the landfill on wetlands, has led to the water finding its own course and inundating low lying areas, including paddy farms across Pen, Alibaug and Uran, Kumar said.

Sarpanchs (village heads) of Sonari and Karal-Savarkhal villages have already written to the Uran Tehsildar drawing his attention to the flooding due to the sluice gates and the wall and the indiscriminate landfill by JNPT. The villages did not have any history of flooding prior to the landfill, Pawar said, quoting RTI response from the revenue authorities.

Meanwhile, talking to NatConnet, Pramod Patil, CIDCO nodal officer -Environment, said that certain farmers have complained about flooding of their paddy fields due to the release of water from the sluice gates. Hence, CIDCO was contemplating to restrict the tidal water flow.

Kumar, however, said CIDCO, being the planning agency, should protect the farmer interest with bunds limited to their affected areas while facilitating fishing in the larger part of the holding pond. “Thus, both the fishing and farming communities can continue their traditional practices without any hindrances,” Kumar said.

“We can go for a joint inspection and avoid any dispute between the communities if there are any apprehensions on any count”, Pawar said.