#IamParsikHill – IamDying campaign reaches crescendo
MUMBAI: In a World Environment Day development, environment activists have stepped up their campaign to save Parsik Hills from reckless blasting in the name of quarrying and appealed to Chief Minister Mr. Devendra Fadnavis to immediately ban plundering of the hill range in Navi Mumbai.
“The decades-long quarrying has caused irreparable damage to the environment and the once picturesque hills,” said Mr. Nanda Kumar Pawar, director of the NGO Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishthan (SEAP).
Stating that “we cannot stand as mute witnesses to the rampant, careless and criminal destruction”, he said SEAP is planning to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) at the National Green Tribunal (NGT) seeking to ban quarrying at Parsik Hills.
He, along with other eminent environmentalists, was addressing a media seminar at Mumbai Press Club on the occasion of the World Environment Day, today, as part of a social communication campaign, #IamParsikHill and IamDying, by Public relations Council of India (PRCI) - the premier national body of PR, media, advertising, HR professionals and mass communication academicians and students.
“Hills are national heritage and nobody has any business to destroy them,” Mr Pawar said lending support to PRCI initiative. “It is a worthy cause and quarrying is worrying," Mr. Pawar said.
Pointing out that quarrying destroys bio diversity, forests and destroys the water table, Mr Stalin D, Director of NGO Vanashakti, said: “The Parsik hill range has the potential for an excellent venue for eco-tourism and adventure sports. Please save these beautiful forested hills from reckless destruction.”
The dust pollution created by quarrying poses great health hazards for the citizens of Navi Mumbai, he said adding that the Chief Minister must ban quarrying at Parsik Hills immediately.
Inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call during his latest Mann Ki Baat broadcast to follow the Environment Day-2017 theme ‘Connecting People To Nature’, PRCI has embarked on the campaign to focus attention on the destruction of nature which is also harming the people, said council national president B N Kumar.
Apart from launching the communication across social media, PRCI also initiated an online petition on change.org platform addressed to the Chief Minister and posted hard-hitting short videos on youtube.
Per media reports, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) itself has said that the air pollution levels in the areas around stone crushers of quarries are a hundred times the acceptable levels.
The Parsik Hill quarries were allotted to some people decades ago as part of CIDCO’s compensation package for those who surrendered lands for the development of Navi Mumbai. But response to an RTI application by Mr Pawar now shows that most of the quarry owners are either politicians or enjoy political patronage.
He, therefore, felt that banning of quarries would not adversely impact the Project Affected People (PAP).
Late Shiv Sena supreme had in June 1997 ordered a ban on quarrying at Parsik Hills during the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance rule. But later, the blasting of the hills resumed with seeming vengeance.
A cursory look at the hills from Sion-Panvel highway shows the pathetic condition of the plundered hills along Thane-Belapur Road where forests have disappeared due to quarrying.
The NGT is hearing a PIL against quarrying and its ruling is slated for July 19. Quarry owners have, meanwhile, stopped their operation as the Thane district collector stopped collecting royalty. The collector, however, permitted three quarries.Irrespective these developments, environmentalists have vehemently argued in favour of keeping Parsik Hills free of further destruction even as Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has begun to work on a tripartite deal with revenue and forest departments to develop a stretch of the hills as Green Tourist destination