July 8, 2015 3:38:36 am
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the state Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) committee to explain why classification of wetlands at Kopri in Thane were relaxed from CRZ 1 to CRZ 3. The stretch is one of the few remaining pockets of wetlands, creeks and mangroves in the city and allegedly being reclaimed for an upcoming Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project.
An area of about 20 hectares along the stretch is being reclaimed for the project, according to NGO Paryavaran Dakshata Manch, which has filed the petition.
The tribunal has further ordered that an authentic Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) map regarding CRZ area and declaration as well as the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s stand on the issue shall be filed before the tribunal.
The area is designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Bird Life International (UK). Previously, the tribunal had ordered an expert bird survey of the affected area. But despite the court order, which also directs the company contracted to develop SEZ to facilitate such a survey without any hindrance, the researchers who visited the site were prevented entry into the area that has been cordoned off.
“Dumping for the project is affecting vital inter-tidal habitats such as mangroves and salt pans. This is in addition to the existing threats such as garbage dumping and other human encroachments,” said Atul Sathe, Manager-Communications, BNHS-India.
The next date of hearing is July 21.
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