Maharashtra: Learn from Mumbai landslides, avoid construction on Kharghar hills, urge greens | Navi Mumbai News

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NAVI MUMBAI: Going by the recent landslides in Mumbai during the heavy rains, city based environmentalists have urged the state government and various agencies concerned to cancel all proposed real estate developments on top of Kharghar hills, while also stop any further destruction of the Parsik hill range in Navi Mumbai.
In a letter to the chief minister, environment NGO NatConnect Foundation pointed out that the hills, extending from quarried Parsik hill could be prone to landslides and the soil could have become loose due to continuous blasts. Moreover, Kharghar node itself has been witnessing relentless quarrying, the petition said.
“It is prudent to avoid the development of Kharghar hills into real estate project and instead conserve it as a Nature Project,” said B N Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on July 28 this year had launched a Cidco project to develop 250 acres into a real estate property including villa plots.
“The urban planners must learn lessons from the latest landslides at Kandivali and Malabar Hill and abort the Kharghar ‘Heaven Hills’ plan,” Kumar added, calling for a thorough Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) before the urban planners venture into such projects.
When contacted, the Cidco PRO said: “At present, the Kharghar hills project is only at a planning stage. Eco conservation and preservation of trees, greenery will surely be taken into account once the Kharghar hills project is finalized later. So, no details are there for now.”
The activists also opposed development of an affordable housing project along the quarried Parsik hill under the PM Awaas Yojana. “These houses in the vicinity of the Parsik hill could face landslides,” Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, said. This is forest land and must be preserved and conserved as one, he said and cautioned Cidco against playing with biodiversity.
“The state agencies must not just be commercial minded, ignoring and destroying nature be it at Belapur, Uran or Kharghar,” he said.
Kumar pointed out that the land below the Parsik hill is also being dug up now for real estate projects. In fact, a big private hospital has come up by cutting into Parsik hill in Belapur, he said and wondered as to how these will be safe from possible landslides or mud-floods. “We do not seem to learn any lessons from Kerala and Mumbai floods despite the environmentalists’ warnings,” lamented Kumar.
Activist Jyoti Nadkarni pointed that Kharghar citizens have been trying their level best to save the hills by tree plantation and educating the people about the importance of the hills. The government must take ownership of the hill conservation and develop it as a nature project for education and botanical research with limited hours of eco-tourism.
“The hills will be ruined once a real estate development starts,” she argued.
Another activist Chaya Taralekar said the government could develop rainforest on the hills rather than promoting concrete jungles.

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