‘Panje, Karanje wetlands protected as CRZ-I’
Panje and Karanje wetlands in Uran, Navi Mumbai are safeguarded as Coastal Regulation Zone I, the highest protection under the CRZ notification, the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) told the Bombay high court (HC) in an affidavit on November 1.
CRZ I constitutes areas that are ecologically sensitive such as mangroves, corals and coral reefs, mudflats, salt marshes, turtle nesting grounds, national parks, marine sanctuaries and reserved forests., and the CRZ 2011 norms don’t permit any type of construction or tourism activities there. HT has a copy of the affidavit, which confirms that two holding ponds are classified as CRZ 1 and any activity at these sites will be under scrutiny by MCZMA.
“As per the new coastal zone management plan (CZMP) prepared under the CRZ notification 2011 and approved (by the Union environment ministry) in 2019, both the holding ponds are classified as CRZ I due to the presence of mangroves and any activity proposed in the holding pond areas will require examination and scrutiny under this authority (MCZMA),” read the affidavit by Sanjay Sandanshiv, undersecretary (environment department), Maharashtra.
Blaming Cidco for destroying protected mangrove forests by carrying out construction activities, fishermen from Uran, led by environmentalist Nandkumar Pawar and fishing group Hanuman Koliwada Macchimar Samiti, had moved the HC over the “violation of CRZ Notification, 2011” in November last year. They had alleged they had cut off intertidal water channels to mangrove forests at the two holding ponds. One holding pond is located near Boripakhadi in Uran, which includes the 289-hectare Panje wetland, and the second is in Dronagiri node at the mouth of the estuary of Karanja Creek.
Both fishing areas witnessed an 85% drop in catch, the petition said, adding the 233-hectare area had been given away for the Navi Mumbai Special Economic Zone (NMSEZ) to private companies.
The affidavit explains how as per the CRZ 1991 norms both the holding ponds had substantial area in the outer boundary of CRZ limits. However, as per the revised norms in 2011 and approved CZMP maps earlier this year, the presence of mangroves classifies these zones as CRZ I. Cidco said they will follow the final orders by the HC. “There were never any plans for construction at these two holding ponds, and our intent has always been to protect them. The directions of the HC will be implemented,” said Pramod Patil, nodal officer (environment), Cidco. The petitioner said the affidavit comes as hope. “It is startling that Cidco has leased out parts of holding pond 1 to NMSEZ and has been pleading ignorance,” said Pawar. “Several plots appear to have been earmarked for real estate projects, and hopefully this disastrous development will be checked,” said environmentalist BN Kumar.