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Builder gets 26,888 sqm of Parsik Hill slope for just Rs 100 a year

In another RTI response, the state environment department has confirmed to NatConnect that no environmental clearance has been obtained for digging the hill in the recent past.

The city environmentalists have informed that Cidco had given a section of the Parsik hill slope to a private builder on ‘leave and license’ agreement for a mere Rs 100 per year.

“The documents regarding this strange leave and license agreement have been obtained through RTI. Cidco has given a total of 26888.74 sq metres area of the hill slope to Bhumiraj Builders group in 2021 for the purpose of maintenance of the hill in Belapur. The agreement also states that no excavation or digging activity should be done on the hill slope,” said activist B N Kumar of NatConnect Foundation.

As environmentalists raised a hue and cry that the so-called beautification by illegally using heavy machines has threatened the stability of the residential side of the hill and posed dangers of landslides, the Maharashtra Lok Ayukta has also taken suo motu cognizance of the media reports on the issue and served notice to Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC).

Kumar has drawn the attention of the Comptroller General of India (CAG) to this.

He added that a tender process could have been followed in order to give the hill slope to any private party for the purpose of its maintenance, instead of simply giving it to one builder without following the democratic procedure.

In another RTI response, the state environment department has confirmed to NatConnect that no environmental clearance has been obtained for digging the hill in the recent past.

The Maharashtra Human Right Commission is already seized on the matter concerning the illegal digging and dangers of landslides. It has asked top forest, environment, NMMC, police and CIDCO officials to respond, said Kumar.

The commission hearing is slated for December 2, according to Belapur police sub-inspector Deepak Gavit who is compiling all statements.

Assistant municipal commissioner and Belapur Ward Officer Dr Mithali Sancheti have informed NatConnect director B N Kumar that she had alerted Cidco about the Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta taking note of the environmentalists’ concerns about landslide threats to the residential side of Parsik Hill in Navi Mumbai amid non-stop digging of the slope and scraping of the hill from the bottom.

Since the area is under the control of CIDCO it ought to take necessary action and respond to the Lok Ayukta, Dr Sancheti said.

The NGO sought information from the NMMC on the action following a series of complaints to the chief minister regarding the hill cutting and encroachments.

Dr Sancheti said she on her part had done an inspection of the hill slopes and found that the builder violated the conditions of its agreement with Cidco by laying a pathway and even building small walls which Cidco had prohibited.

The builder also erected a huge advertisement hoarding much against the provisions of the leave and license, Dr Sancheti said in her report to Cidco.

The documents also revealed that CIDCO allotted a whopping 26,888.74 sq mtr of the Hill slope to Bhumiraj for maintenance and beautification under a Leave and License agreement valid for 22 months, for an annual fee of just Rs 100.

“It is not even a throwaway price, it is free,” said Kumar protesting against the lack of transparency in the deal.

The deal has led to the cutting and burning down of the existing green plants. And the bigger joke is that the builder has put up flower pots all along the pathway, apart from doing massive branding, NatConnect said.

“This creates the impression that Bhumiraj owns the Parsik Hill as the builder is also developing a property called Bhumiraj Hills,” said Parsik Greens forum convenor Vishnu Joshi.

The entire work is in public glare and yet no official has taken note of it until a journalist pointed it out, Joshi said.

Joshi pointed out that the NMMC has also undertaken a tree plantation on the same slopes with the help of CRS funds from Lubrizol but none of them has taken any branding advantage.

Usage of heavy machinery has certainly impacted the hill on which over 100 buildings have come up and another 100 sites are yet to be developed, said Jayant Thakur, president of Parsik Hill Residents Association.

Association general secretary Rajendra Lokhande pointed out that the hill already had a landslide during the monsoon damaging the NMMC’s water supply control room in the foot of the hill.

A cooperative housing society in the area has confirmed that the digging in the bottom was its work, Dr Sancheti said and asked Cidco to take appropriate action.

This work had stopped after the Parsik Hill residents and NatConnect complained to the chief minister.


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