Activists have called for NMSEZ’s scrapping.
Mumbai: Navi Mumbai’s development body, the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (Cidco), has admitted that it had ‘transferred’ the eco-sensitive Panje wetland to Reliance Industries.
A Cidco representative, during the monthly meeting of the Konkan Wetland Grievance Redressal Committee, stated that the transfer occurred in 2004. Environmentalists have expressed dismay over the Cidco’s stance as the latter had earlier described Panje wetland as a holding pond as part of the flood control mechanism. “Cidco has shockingly incorporated it under the development plan (DP) for the upcoming Dronagiri node. We vehemently opposed this and even requested the Union environment minister to accord the status of Ramsar Wetland to protect it from destruction,” said B.N. Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation.
The Wetland Committee in its latest meeting directed the Cidco to ensure the flow of creek water to mangroves at Panje in light of complaints of the wetland drying up. “We have reported the complaints of mangrove destruction to the environment department,” said a committee member.
Activists have called for the scrapping of Navi Mumbai Special Economic Zone (NMSEZ) and highlighted that the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority had stated in the Bombay high court that Panje falls in the CRZ-1 category. “With Cidco’s disclosure that Panje has been transferred to Reliance, we do not see the corporation working to save it. Cidco is trying to dry up the wetland for construction purposes as it illegally built a concrete wall across the backwater stream and erected sluice gates to regulate water flow to the area,” alleged Nandakumar Pawar, an environmentalist.
The NMSEZ is a private-public partnership company with Reliance group chairman Mukesh Ambani, Jai Corp, SKIL Infrastructure and Cidco as partners. Cidco, which has a 26 per cent stake in the project, has allotted wetlands and mangrove areas such as Pagote, Bhendkhal and Panje to NMSEZ.