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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Illegal construction at 487-year-old Maharashtra lake: NGT issues notices to government departments

mumbai Updated: Oct 29, 2017 01:27 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
(Picture for representation)

The National Green Tribunal issued a notice to several divisions of the state government on Friday for illegal construction on the 487-year-old manmade Dhamapur lake in Sindhudurg district.

The notices, which directed officials to be present for a hearing on November 20, were sent by NGT bench members justice UD Salvi and Dr Nagin Nanda to the environment department in Mumbai; executive engineer at the irrigation department in Kudal; chief executive engineer at public works department (PWD) in Sawantwadi; district collector in Sindhudurg; and Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board (MSBB).

The NGT’s decision came after an environment interest litigation (EIL) was filed by two Sindhudurg residents - Dr Harishchandra Purshottam Natu and Omkar Keni - in Pune, claiming the construction of skywalks around the water body poses a threat to the environment. The applicants have raised an objection to the construction, which has allegedly reduced the size of the lake. They have demanded that activities such as washing of clothes, immersion of Ganpati idols, and the use of diesel boats be prohibited in the area, alongside a demand to set up a Lake Development Authority.

The applicants’ counsel, Asim Sarode, stated the construction of the skywalk would take place on concrete columns, which would disrupt the aquatic ecosystem. In addition to the 35 columns, which have already been laid down, around 1,665 more will be added around the area. Sarode told HT: “The move violates several judgments by the Supreme Court and NGT that mandate a 75-metre buffer zone around lakes and wetlands.”

A senior official from the state environment department said: “We have issued a notice to the district administration to review the construction activity and submit a report. In addition, we plan to consult the MSBB to better understand the biodiversity in the area before submitting our response to the NGT.”

The Dhamapur lake, spreading out over 125 acres and connecting the villages Are and Katta, was created in 1530.

First Published: Oct 29, 2017 01:27 IST