NAVI MUMBAI: Acting on the complaints against attempts to chase away protected birds from the Panje Wetland with fire crackers, the State Forest Department has issued summons on Navi Mumbai SEZ (NMSEZ).
Official sources, requesting not to be quoted, said that the summons have been sent to the NMSEZ office in Navi Mumbai seeking the presence of the officials for the investigation into the fire cracker incident which was shot on a video.
The video showed two men in light-and-dark-blue uniform with identity cards hanging around their necks came on a motor cycle and set crackers on fire at the wetland on September 6 as a result of which many birds got scared and flew helter-skelter.
NatConnect director B N Kumar complained to the Chief Minister while nature film maker Aishwarya Sridhar wrote to the Mangrove Cell. In response mail, CM Uddhav Thackeray asked the Forest Secretary B Venugopal Reddy to look into the case.
Welcoming the summons to NMSEZ, Kumar said the inquiry must be completed fast and the culprits punished. “But more than that, the inquiry must get hold of the unseen hands behind the crime and consistent efforts to damage the wetland to make way for a concrete jungle there,” he said.
CIDCO has leased out the Panje Wetland to NMSEZ though the planning agency is a 26% stake holder in the project. CIDCO, too, had sought denotification of the SEZ and sought the State Government’s permission to develop Navi Mumbai Integrated Industrial Area (NMIIA) in place of the SEZ. The Union Commerce Ministry has confirmed to NatConnect in an RTI response that NMSEZ has been de-notified, Kumar said.
“Let any project be executed here, but it should not play with the fragile ecology and wetlands and mangroves,” said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan.
Pawar and Kumar said Panje wetland must be conserved as an MMR Biodiversity Park.
Pawar called for immediate demolition of the illegal compound wall built of NMSEZ at Panje wetland and allowing free access to nature lovers and fishing community. As of now, the NMSEZ security is rudely preventing entry to the wetland. They had threatened Aishwarya that her camera would be broken if she is seen again at the wetland.