The Powai lake, a national water body, and Virar lake — which supplies part of city’s drinking water — are facing a renewed threat with intensive quarrying activities carried out in Powai-Chandivli hills, a no-development zone.
The hills serve as the main catchment area and how much water will run off to the lakes during the monsoon season.
Quarrying in this side of the hill is a recent phenomenon while mining activities on the other side of the hill started in 2000 and drew protests from residents and environmental NGOs which prompted the state government to ban such activities in the area.
Environmentalists describe the latest quarrying activities at Sangharsh Nagar in Powai as a human rights violation.
According to them, the mining activity has already caused irreparable damage to the catchment area of these two lakes apart from exposing several thousands residents to air pollution.
Environment secretary Valsa Singh Nair said she would visit the area to assess the damage.
The disappearing hills also pose a security treat to the city. In 2000 the Indian Air Force, wrote to the then suburban collector of the region that the hills protect the city from aerial attacks. “The amount of respiratory suspended particulate matter entering those houses is scary,” said Shyam Saxena, a local environmentalist.
The side of the hill where quarrying activities have become rampant faces 16 to 17 buildings housing hutments dwellers rehabilitated from the national park. “The population directly exposed to the pollutants are not educated to understand the adverse effects of quarrying,” added Saxena.