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Mumbai: Decision to resume quarrying in Parsik Hill meets with resistance

The Maharsahtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s decision to reopen 102 stone quarries in Navi Mumbai’s Parsik Hill has been met with resistance from environmentalists, who have written to chief minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray cautioning him against the decision
By Prayag Arora-Desai, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUN 26, 2021 12:35 AM IST

The Maharsahtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s decision to reopen 102 stone quarries in Navi Mumbai’s Parsik Hill has been met with resistance from environmentalists, who have written to chief minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray cautioning him against the decision. They said the move is detrimental not just to the environment but also the public health of residents living in Vashi, Turbhe, Belapur, Ghansoli, Rabale and Nerul.

Thane guardian minister Eknath Shinde had, on June 23, publicly announced the decision after meeting with a delegation of local quarry operators and assuring them that the mines, which were shuttered five years ago, will be re-started to help settle the Navi Mumbai project-affected people (PAP) and float 40,000 jobs. Since 1972, Cidco had been allotting quarries to PAP in lieu of the land acquired for the development of Navi Mumbai.

However, quarrying has since been halted on two occasions — once in the mid-90s at the intervention of late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, and again in 2016, after the forest department ascertained that mining has been done in significantly more than the permissible land. Against the 138 hectares allotted till the year 2026, around 248 hectares had been quarried, the forest department ascertained.

“Allowing the mining to resume is simply irresponsible. There are many social welfare schemes under which PAPs can be settled, and we do not have to continue to blast these already plundered hills,” said NatConnect Foundation director BN Kumar, who has written a letter to the CM, suggesting to find alternative sites to fetch stone chips required for construction work.

“The government could encourage quarrying on cooperative basis in other parts of the state which are not inhabited, and thus offer gainful employment to the project-affected families,” Kumar said in his June 24 letter to CM Uddhav Thackeray and environment minister Aaditya Thackeray.

Nandakumar Pawar, head of NGO Shri Ekavira Aai Pratishthan, has also appealed to the CM to intervene and ensure that the Parsik Hill range is conserved. “Some of the hills have almost entirely been flattened as contractors have overstepped their limits. Cidco is constructing affordable housing projects adjacent to some of the quarries, putting them at risk of landslides. The residents will be directly affected by fugitive emissions from mining activity,” said Pawar.

Apart from environmentalists, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has previously opposed the resumption of Parsik Hill quarrying, citing air pollution concerns. In 2017, under the aegis of the then NMMC chief Dr N Ramasamy, the civic body had filed an affidavit in the National Green Tribunal opposing the Parsik Hill quarrying.

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