Quarrying shrinks Parsik hill to an eyesore

Residents and activists have sounded the alarm and are fighting to save the hills

mumbai Updated: Aug 10, 2018 23:56 IST
G Mohiuddin Jeddy
G Mohiuddin Jeddy
Hindustan Times
NMMC,Parsik Hill,Navi Mumbai
A few months ago, environmentalists and green groups joined hands and wrote to the chief minister to intervene. (Bachachan Kumar/HT)

In the 1970s, Parsik hill was lush green forest with monsoon waterfalls and abundant wildlife. Navi Mumbai was just developing as a city and the green zone added to the city’s beautiful open spaces.

After Cidco allowed quarrying in the hills, things started changing. Years laters, Parsik hill has neither waterfalls nor wildlife. The depleting green cover is evident and the destruction of the hill is visible from as far as Mankhurd bridge, 15km away.

Residents and activists have sounded the alarm and are fighting to save the hills.

“We are raising our voice to protect Parsik hills and the bio-diversity of the area and prevent further pollution,” said Mohan Gurnani, chairman of Navi Mumbai First Charitable Trust.

National communicators body Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) and NGO Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP) have repeatedly been complaining to the chief minister on the destruction of Parsik hill.

A few months ago, environmentalists and green groups joined hands and wrote to the chief minister to intervene.

Fadnavis asked the environment department to look into the issue of quarrying in Parsik hill.

PRCI governing council chairman BN Kumar said, “Through photographs, we pointed out that entire hills had disappeared due to the quarrying that goes on unabated.”

SEAP head Nandkumar Pawar said infrastructure development should not happen at the cost of the environment.

“The City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) is already blasting the hills at Navi Mumbai international airport project site. Let us not flatten Parsik hills for the airport project,” said Pawar.

The Thane District Environment Impact Assessment Authority (DEIAA), in its meeting in February, called for a joint inspection of the Parsik hill quarry sites by the forest department and Cidco.

The forest department said that as against 138 hectares allotted for mining, as much as 248 hectares have been mined.

Deputy conservator of forests, Thane, Jitendra Ramgaokar, said that they are making sure that the quarrying is done as per permission. “Permission has been given by the Centre for mining in 138 hectare area of the hills till 2026. It should be limited to that specific area,” he said.

Cidco had proposed that areas between two quarries could be considered for fresh quarrying permission. The forest officials have opposed this and asked for the entire mined areas to be considered as clusters.

Senior public relations officer of Cidco Mohan Ninawe said, “We have not yet taken a decision on the issue. There are several aspects to be considered.”

We follow rules: Quary owners

The quarry owners claimed that they have complied with all norms.

Namdeo Thakur, president of Navi Mumbai Dagadkhan Chalak Va Malak Sanghatana, said, “Since 1972, Cidco had been giving quarries to the project-affected people in lieu of the land taken from us. ”

In 2006, the Centre renewed the licences and gave quarry owners permission through Cidco till 2026. “But, Cidco gives permission for 10 years at a time and then renews it, which is a formality,” said Thakur.

Quarry owners said more than 20,000 people are directly dependent on the activity. “A lakh more are involved in related business,” said a quarry owner.

The government is losing revenue worth crores, he said.

NMMC looking for solutions

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has joined the chorus in opposing quarrying at Parsik hills.

NMMC commissioner Ramaswamy N said, “We have made our stand clear through an affidavit filed in the court in which we have asked for quarrying to be stopped. It is leading to pollution and environmental degradation. If there can be a technical solution, the NMMC will fund it as an environmental project.”

First Published: Aug 10, 2018 23:56 IST