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In Navi Mumbai: Build bird sanctuary, not golf course, says Aaditya

By Badri Chatterjee, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2020 01:00 AM IST

State environment minister Aaditya Thackeray has asked the City Industrial Development Corporation Ltd (Cidco) to look at alternate options such as a flamingo sanctuary or mangrove park at the site for a proposed golf course in Seawoods, Navi Mumbai.

During a meeting on Monday with Navi Mumbai residents including Sunil Agarwal, who has petitioned the Bombay high court (HC) against the project, Thackeray told Cidco to ensure the natural ecosystem around Seawoods remains protected.

Cidco, the planning agency for Navi Mumbai, plans to develop 17 buildings and an 18-hole golf course on the plot. On January 12 and 13, Cidco’s contractors hacked 724 trees for the project, leading to protests by locals. The proposed golf course covers pockets A, B and C which has mangroves and other wetlands, which is designated as important bird area by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

A state government official, who was part of the meeting, said, “After Navi Mumbai residents presented the matter before the environment minister, the minister issued a few guidelines. Firstly, the exact demarcation of the wetland area around Seawoods needs to be identified; mangrove patches and waterbodies need to be fenced off and no debris can be dumped. Instead of golf course, Cidco was asked to come up with a plan to build a flamingo sanctuary or mangrove park in the plot, considering the large number of mangroves and migratory birds visiting the site. However, no formal decisions have been taken yet. Cidco and their builder need to come up with revised plans in the next meeting, scheduled later this month.”

“The minister was clear that wetlands and mangroves need to be protected. Having a golf course in their place is not a viable option,” said Agarwal. “UDD officials were asked to see how to revise previous agreements so that real estate project can take place in the remaining portion of pockets D and E alone. The meeting was a huge relief for us.”

Lokesh Chandra, vice-chairman and managing director, Cidco refused to comment.

The project was proposed in 2002 by Cidco. The state urban development department (UDD) issued a notification on October 5, 2016, which changed the land use from a green zone to residential area to allow the project. After residents moved the HC in 2017 against the change of land use, the HC on November 1, 2018, put a stay on state government’s notification. On July 19, 2019, the SC removed the stay imposed by the HC on the state’s notification after Cidco challenged the HC notification.

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