Tirupati Balaji temple plot hits flood-prone hazard line snag, claim Greens


The proposed replica of Tirupati Venkateswara Swamy temple at Ulwe in Navi Mumbai has got into another environmental tangle with the coastal zone management plan (CZMP) highlighting that coastal flood hazard line runs through the 10-acre plot allotted for the project, green groups claim.

Tirupati Balaji temple plot hits flood-prone hazard line snag, claim Greens
Tirupati Balaji temple plot hits flood-prone hazard line snag, claim Greens

NatConnect Foundation director B N Kumar has already moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) challenging allotment of the plot taken from a temporary casting yard built for the Mumbai Trans Harbour Line (MTHL). The casting yard itself was built on 16 hectares of mangroves, Kumar alleged, quoting a rapid environment impact assessment report by Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA).

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CIDCO which leased out the area to MMRDA should have restored the mangroves and the wetlands but unfortunately the city planner sought to convert a temporary landfill into a permanent reclamation, the application before NGT said.

The proposed replica of Tirupati Venkateswara Swamy temple at Ulwe in Navi Mumbai has got into another environmental tangle with the coastal zone management plan (CZMP) highlighting that coastal flood hazard line runs through the 10-acre plot allotted for the project, green groups claim.

The fresh evidence of the hazard line cutting into the plot came to notice on Thursday during an inspection at the site as per instructions from the High Court-mandated Mangrove Protection and Conservation Committee following a separate complaint from Kumar on CRZ violations.

“A CIDCO official had the layout plan papers which we noticed and asked for details,” Kumar said. The layout as seen on the CZMP clearly showed a blue line across the plot area and the CIDCO official confirmed it is the hazard line, the activist said.

In CRZ parlance, a hazard line denotes flood-prone area from the sea. Kumar said his counsel will now present the fresh evidence to the NGT’s western bench.

“As it is we have been cautioning the authorities and the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) that the temple project is ill-conceived in a disaster-prone area as nature will strike back,” NatConnect said.

The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) which recommended a conditional CRZ clearance did not consider the fact that the temple plot is on a temporary landfill, the NGO said and argued that this important piece of information was hidden from the proposal submitted.

As per the MCZMA minutes, CIDCO and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) have submitted that of the 40,000 sq mtr plot for the temple, 2,748.18 sq mtr fall under CRZ1A, 25,656.58 sq mtr in CRZ2 while 11,595 sq mtr is outside CRZ.

The MCZMA permitted the construction on only non-CRZ area which is 11,595 sq mtr, a little over one-fourth of the allotted 40,000 sq mtr (or 10 acres).

“We wonder if the hazard line aspect was placed before the MCZMA as it does not figure in the minutes,” Kumar said.

Meanwhile, a group of fishermen who joined the site visit on Thursday pointed out to the Tahsildar that the temporary landfill aspects and how they used to do fishing in the area before the casting yard was built.

Shelar said he would record all statements and send it to the Mangrove committee.

Kumar reiterated that he is not at all opposed to the temple project but it could be built in an environmental friendly area rather than on mangrove graves.

CIDCO has repeatedly refused to respond to the objections and controversies with regard to the plot claiming all actions are in accordance with the law.



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