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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

After Gargai, BMC’s Pinjal Dam likely to drown 1,131ha forests

The project, which will give Mumbai 865 million litres of water a day (MLD) once completed, is going to be constructed near Khidse village in Jawhar tehsil of Palghar, on the Pinjal river, by 2026.

mumbai Updated: Sep 17, 2019 04:46 IST
Eeshanpriya M S
Eeshanpriya M S
Mumbai
Pinjal Dam project will supply water for drinking as well as for irrigation and as such it will require the Centre’s environment and forest clearances and a nod from the National Board for Wildlife. Moreover, the project will displace 825 families.
Pinjal Dam project will supply water for drinking as well as for irrigation and as such it will require the Centre’s environment and forest clearances and a nod from the National Board for Wildlife. Moreover, the project will displace 825 families. (HT FILE)
         

Another ambitious project of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) — the proposed Pinjal Dam in Palghar — would submerge 1,130.82 hectares [11 sq km] of forests if it gets the go-ahead. This is more than three times the area of Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC).

The project, which will give Mumbai 865 million litres of water a day (MLD) once completed, is going to be constructed near Khidse village in Jawhar tehsil of Palghar, on the Pinjal river, by 2026. The dam is expected to meet 32% of the city’s increased demand for drinking water by 2041.

Last week, BMC’s standing committee passed a proposal to appoint a consultant to carry out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) survey and a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) survey for the project. The consultant will also be in charge of submitting all proposals to the environment ministry and taking up follow-up actions until the BMC has all permissions in place, over the next two years.

While an EIA study for the project was completed in October 2016, a senior civic official said, “The environment ministry mandates we have the latest EIA, not older than three years. So we have to redo the survey.”

Last week, HT had reported that BMC’s other project, the Gargai Dam, which is set to give the city 440 MLD, is likely to submerge 600 hectares of forests inside the Tansa wildlife sanctuary. While Mumbai presently receives 3,750 MLD water, a BMC report called ‘Towards Equitable and 24*7 Water Supply for Greater Mumbai’ estimated the city would need 71% more water or 6,424 MLD by 2041.

The Pinjal Dam project will supply water for drinking as well as for irrigation and as such it will require the Centre’s environment and forest clearances and a nod from the National Board for Wildlife. Moreover, the project will displace 825 families.

While the total area to be submerged by the dam is 2,055 hectares, 1130.32 hectares is forests, located about 10km from the boundary of the Tansa wildlife sanctuary.

Conservationists and environmentalists have been critical of the Gargai and Pinjal projects.

Conservationist Kedar Gore said, “Unlike the Gargai dam, which is inside the Tansa wildlife sanctuary, the Pinjal is coming up in a territorial forest. But whether it is a sanctuary or a territorial forest, wildlife does not understand these boundaries. By affecting so many trees, we are taking away the homes of so many birds, insects and biodiversity.” Gore added that this will affect the continuity of forests. “We cannot count the number of trees we are cutting in isolation from their environment. And then plant those many somewhere else. In an ecosystem, trees are interacting with the environment, which is important. Mumbai’s demand for water will keep increasing, and 20 years down the line, we will need two more dams, so demand will never stop,” he added.

First Published: Sep 17, 2019 00:19 IST

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