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News Entry# 287871
Dec 07 2016 (09:09)  Aarey Metro carshed gets govt's green nod (
News Entry# 287871     
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The Union environment ministry has issued the final notification on the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Aarey Colony .
An area of 407.7 acres (1.65 sq km) has been excluded in Aarey for “exceptions“, including the Metro III car shed. The government has earmarked about 75 acres for the car shed.
The ESZ extends in width from 100m up to 4 km along the park boundary in a move aimed at regulating development around the protected area and avoiding man-animal conflict.Earlier, construction of any kind was not allowed within
10 km from the boundary .
The final notification mentions that the provisions are subject to orders of the Supre me Court, high courts and the National Green Tribunal. The tribunal's Pune bench in August last year ordered a status quo at Aarey while hearing a plea filed by NGO Vanashakti to declare the entire green belt as an eco-sensitive zone.
Activists slammed the notification as an eyewash and claimed that the government was destroying the city's last lungs. The final eco sensitive zone (ESZ) notification, issued on Monday , called for a high boundary wall with fencing in areas around housing societies adjoining SGNP in view of the large population of leopards in the park. It marked buffer zones to ensure that no more buildings come up adjoining the park.The notification said plans already sanctioned will not be affected.
Activists were not impressed and said instead of completely banning construction inside the ESZ, the ministry has opened them up, allowing IT park and road expansion.“We want to stress that development and environment go together. While we are protecting the park and its biodiversity, we are, at the same time, also thinking about the deve lopment of the city,“ said Union environment minister Anil Madhav Dave on Tuesday .
The notification says construction shall be permitted within the ESZ according to provisions of the approved Development Plan, such as commercial buildings, group housing societies, IT parks, roads, power lines, sewage, other civic amenities and the Metro card shed.
“They are restricting activities like commercial mining and stone quarrying which are not there, but allowing IT buildings and other activities which will harm the ecology of the area. The notification is a disaster because it's allowing construction inside the eco-sensitive zone,“ said environmentalist DStalin, whose Vanashakti is fighting in court to protect the lung.
“The ministry is supposed to protect forests, but they are destroying it. They are compromising the ecology of the area by allowing the Metro car shed. Aarey is a natural flood controlling area and by disturbing it, the government is putting the lives of citizens at risk,“ said ecologist Anand Pendharkar.
(With inputs from New Delhi)
The decision to relax norms for the green belt that makes up the Aarey Colony and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park is yet another blow to efforts aimed at safeguarding the city's natural environment. While projects to upgrade urban infrastructure are much needed, why should it be at the expense of the few open and verdant spaces left in the city? This reflects failure in planning and a misplaced sense of priorities.
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