Fadnavis acts on SOS against Parsik Hill quarrying

Fadnavis acts on SOS against Parsik Hill quarrying

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. (PTI file photo)

Taking cognisance of demands by environment activists to stop further quarrying of the much-ravaged Parsik Hills in Thane district, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked the Environment Department to look into the issue and take further action.

The Chief Minister’s office acknowledged the latest joint communiqué sent to Fadnavis, along with three telling photographs of the destruction, from national communicators body Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) and NGO Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP) and said the Environment Department has been asked to look into the matter.

The destruction of Parsik Hills has reached the top of the hills and resulted in the disappearance of a couple of them, PRCI governing council chairman B N Kumar pointed out and expressed happiness at the prompt response from Fadnavis.

SEAP and PRCI launched the #SaveParsikHill campaign on World environment day last year, focusing on the ecological damage and the drive received support from several environmental groups.

SEAP head Nandkumar Pawar said “we hope to see some concrete action now from the government. The Chief Minister has at least responded to our SOS communiqué,” he said.

Stressing that they are not opposed to infrastructure development, PRCI and SEAP said: “it should not happen at the cost of the environment”. “We are sure you and your government also give top priority to the environment as enunciated by the Prime Minister himself,” they said in a press statement.

The Thane District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA) had in its meeting in February called for a joint inspection of the Parsik Hill quarry sites by the Forest Department and CIDCO after forest officials complained about massive violations by quarries. Against the 136 hectares allotted for mining, as much as 248 hectares have been mined, as per the forest department.

During the joint inspection, CIDCO proposed that areas between two quarries could be considered for fresh quarrying permission. The Forest officials have, however, vehemently opposed any fresh quarrying at the site.

“We strongly feel – and it is a matter of common sense – that areas between two quarry sites ought to have been badly impacted by blasting on either side,” Pawar said.

The forest officials have now understood to have referred the issue to the Maharashtra Government level officers at Mantralaya for guidance. “It is in this context that we appealed for the CM’s intervention to disallow any further quarrying and stop further destruction of the Parsik Hills, Kumar said.

In fact, several stakeholders including Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, several former CIDCO officials and ex-BMC Commissioner Mr Subodh Kumar have all vehemently opposed further quarrying of Parsik Hills as it would cause massive air pollution, the mail to the Chief Minister said.

Moreover, the quarry owners themselves have realized the environmental damage done by the plundering of the hills. They have requested CIDCO for alternative sites.

“We, therefore, fail to understand the uncalled-for over-enthusiasm on the part of CIDCO in resuming quarrying of Parsik Hills when the whole world is opposed to it,” Pawar said.

“CIDCO is already blasting the hills in Navi Mumbai International Airport area and this material could well be used for the project. Additional material could be procured from other places. But let us not flatten Parsik Hills for the airport project,” the mail said.

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