100 trees cut for power grids in Navi Mumbai bird sanctuary: Visitors
The park, dubbed as Mini Lonavala as it is nestled atop a hillock, witnessed the hacking of more than 100 trees, including Gulmohar trees, which were more than 30 years old and fruit-bearing mango trees, Gaurav Karande, a volunteer of the Nature Valley Walker Association, said
Mumbai: For the past few months, many trees have been cut down inside Navi Mumbai’s only bird sanctuary – Green Valley Park in sector 9 of Belapur – to set up a 400 KV transmission line from Vikhroli to Kharghar, said bird watchers and regular visitors of the park.
The park, dubbed as Mini Lonavala as it is nestled atop a hillock, witnessed the hacking of more than 100 trees, including Gulmohar trees, which were more than 30 years old and fruit-bearing mango trees, Gaurav Karande, a volunteer of the Nature Valley Walker Association, said.
Disturbed by the destruction, naturalists have been knocking on the doors of CIDCO, who is executing the project, to ascertain whether there is any kind of monitoring done.
“I have been residing in this area for more than 35 years and have seen this sanctuary develop into a dense forest due to the care and efforts put in by like-minded volunteers to preserve this area. However, today in a matter of just a few months, the dense green cover has gone and now the far-off mountains are visible because of the large-scale tree-cutting done in the name of development. Adding to our agony is the fact that no officials or authorities are responding to our grievances,” Karande said, adding that the sanctuary is home to 70 species of birds and due to this massive tree-cutting their habitat will be compromised as well.
Karande and many others have claimed that they have repeatedly written to officials questioning the massive destruction happening on the hillock. A primary reason for their angst is the damage that the destruction will cause to the hillock’s ecosystem and even neighbouring areas.
“Within 200 to 300 square meters, more than 100 full-grown trees have been hacked mercilessly. An entire portion of the hillock is now looking barren. With proper monitoring and planning, the project could have been done without causing so much damage,” said a resident, Esther Adiappa.
According to the tree activists and regular visitors of the park, assurances given by on-sight supervisors that new plantation drives will be undertaken to compensate for the loss of trees offer little solace. “They have offered to plant new plantations on the outskirts of Pune. Trees are being cut in Belapur. I fail to understand how planting new saplings in far-off areas will help,” questioned Karande.
Joint Managing Director of CIDCO Kailash Shinde said, “I am certain that only trees permitted by the tree authority to facilitate the power grid project are being cut. Nevertheless, to address the concerns raised by residents, I have asked the concerned officials to inspect the area.”
Ashok Gurke, former corporator of the ward, said he will raise the issue with the corporation. “I will be writing a letter to the municipal commissioner informing them about the damage being caused to the area. NMMC is providing water to the hillock and therefore, should be informed about the destruction happening,” he added.