India: Development in No-Development Zone Kandarpada
Residents of the Borivli-Dahisar belt have alleged that large-scale
environmental destruction is in progress in the No-Development Zone
between Gorai creek and Kandarpada. Residents in the area have been
alleging for a long time that debris is dumped on the mangroves to cut
off the supply of sea water coming to the ponds and trees during high
tide. Once the ponds dry up, land is reclaimed and similarly,
mangroves are destroyed by cutting the flow of sea water. This,
according to residents, is a direct violation of a Bombay high court
order, which prohibits any activity within 50 m of mangroves. When
this reporter visited the place on Wednesday, she saw that
construction work was in progress at several places along the stretch.
Many structures__ an illegal restaurant, garages, parking slots,
small-scale workshops__have come up on the reclaimed land. “The
dumping on mangroves and prawn cultivation ponds are being conducted
at a quick pace.
Right in the midst of mangroves, trucks make their
way and the area is systematically filled. In fact, even small roads
are being constructed to facilitate movement of trucks,” Janata Dal
vice-president Edwin Britto said. “Instead of taking action against
this work, the BMC refuse to react despite regular complaints.” This
area falls under Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and is a no-development
zone. It is protected by the WildLife Protection Act, the Forest
Conservation Act, Environmental Protection Act and other similar Acts
and orders of the high court. Even the development plan (DP) of the
BMC shows it as a no-development zone. Three years ago, the high court
banned any construction or dumping of garbage on mangrove lands in the
state. The court also ordered satellite mapping of the coastline and
reserving the mangrove plots as “protected forests”. “The staff who
have allowed this rampant development should be held responsible. How
come this sort of ecological imbalance be allowed?” Britto asked.
According to old-timers, water used to flow out into the green area.
“Now it gets regularly flooded during the monsoon. We are worried this
may have a long term impact,” said a resident. Kishore Gajbhiye,
additional municipal commissioner of the western suburbs, said he had
ordered an inquiry into it. “The problem is that these activities take
place in the night. They do not take the necessary permission. There
is not enough machinery or even men to keep an eye. But once we track
down the culprit, action will be taken,” he said.