Dronagiri DP covering Panje wetland - illegal

CRZ Blow to Reliance-NMSEZ plan at Panje wetland

MCZMA says no permission given for CIDCO’s DP

City planner CIDCO, 26% stake holder of NMSEZ, has been under fire for allotting eco-sensitive areas for development.

MUMBAI (BNC Network) In a major blow to CIDCO and Navi Mumbai SEZ to develop integrated township covering Panje and other wetlands in Uran, the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has disclosed that it has not given any permission for the development plan.

CIDCO has drawn the Dronagiri development Plan (DP) covering 2,700 hectares, including 1,250 hectares of NMSEZ disregarding mangrove zones and wetlands, environmentalists alleged.

In response to an application under the RTI Act from B N Kumar, director of international award winning NatConnect Foundation, the MCZMA has disclosed that it has not given any permission for the Dronagiri development plan.

NatConnect has sought the information since MCZMA has earlier submitted to Bombay High Court that Panje wetland area falls under CRZ-1 which prohibits any development within half-a-km of the high tide zone, whereas CIDCO’s DP shows that the wetland stretch between Dongar and Panje has been earmarked as Sectors 16 to 28

“The MCZMA clarification comes as a big boost to our campaign to save the 289 hectare Panje wetland as our requests to declare it as a bird sanctuary have been pending with the State government,” said Kumar.

Following NatConnect request, State Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray has in an emergency meeting in March halted construction at Panje. Yet, mangroves have been consistently chopped and water flow stopped, Kumar pointed out.

In another response under RTI to environmentalist Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, MCZMA said no permission was given to CIDCO for putting up sluice gates across the backwater flow at Panje. “Our information also shows that the NMSEZ’s wall around Panje wetland is also illegal,” Pawar said and called for demolishing the illegal structures .

Meanwhile, the revenue officials filed an FIR against a dumper driver for bringing in soil for landfill at Panje, without any royalty permit to pick up the construction material from a hill.

City planner CIDCO, 26% stake holder of NMSEZ, has been under fire for allotting eco-sensitive areas for development.

Excepting for the boundary walls, for long there has been no development on NMSEZ. A flurry of activity suddenly started after the State government granted change of use permission allowing NMSEZ, promoted by corporate tycoon Mukesh Ambani in his private capacity and others, to develop an integrated industrial township. Interestingly, Reliance Industries Limited headed by Ambani entered into am MoU with NMSEZ to sublease and develop 4,000 acres.


It was after this, the massive landfill on mangroves and wetlands at Pagote and Bhendkhal began. The project proponents have apparently taken advantage of the Lok Sabha poll period when the surveillance officials were busy on election duties, Kumar said.

NatConnect and SEAP have complained to the Election Commission of India, the State Government and the Mangrove Committee. The ECI has noted the environmentalists’ suggestion to keep environment officials out of the poll duties.

As the polling ended, a senior official of the Mangrove Committee made a surprise visit to the destroyed sites and ordered an immediate halt to the landfill.

The Committee at its subsequent meetings ordered restoration of the mangroves killed and landfilled water bodies. This is yet to happen, Pawar lamented.

Meanwhile, the Raigad district administration confirmed in its report to the Mangrove Cell that the landfill was illegal and that FIRs have been filed against unnamed NMSEZ officials under the Environment Protection act.



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