Residents have alleged that several trees have been hacked using JCB machines and bulldozers.
Mumbai: While citizens and activists have been making efforts to save the biodiversity of Seawoods’ wetlands, the Konkan Wetland Grievance Redressal Committee has directed the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) to stop any kind of reclamation at the site. Following this, the Cidco has withdrawn all the machines from the site.
As per a state government notification from October 2016, the 67.85 hectares of the mangrove area in Sector 60, Nerul, near Seawoods area, was denotified from ‘No Development Zone’ (NDZ) to the ‘Regional Park, including Golf Course and predominately Residential Zone’.
Last week, the project proponent, Mistry Constructions, had constructing a compound wall along the site where citizens have alleged mangroves are being destroyed. “The mangroves have been damaged. Mud was dumped to fill the wetlands using heavy equipment. They have reclaimed land from the water body and degraded it by dumping gravel,” said Sunil Agrawal, a resident of NRI Complex, a residential building adjacent to the site.
Residents have alleged that several trees have been hacked using JCB machines and bulldozers. “We will be looking into the matter of alleged destruction at the mangrove site. As of now, we have told Cidco to refrain from any reclamation activities,” said Jayaram Gowda, member secretary of the committee.
However, Cidco has maintained that it has granted permission to Mistry Constructions Company for construction of the wall. According to a Cidco official, as per the clarifications issued by ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) in 2006 and 2010, no permission is required from MoEF for protection of land and for construction of compound wall. The notification has been challenged in the Bombay high court by the Navi Mumbai Environment Preservation Society, a non-profit organisation. While the matter is still being heard, the high court has appointed the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) for expert opinion in the case. In an earlier letter to the Maharashtra government, Dr Deepak Apte, director of BNHS wrote, “The above mentioned 67.85 Ha area is part of the core zone of the proposed Flamingo Sanctuary, which cannot be diverted for change in current land use. Please note that BNHS report mentioning about the declaration of Flamingo Sanctuary has been accepted by the State Board of Wildlife).”