Sonali Telang, The Asian Age, November 18 2017
In 2015, while hearing a petition against the destruction of the Katraj hills in Pune owing to construction work, the National Green Tribunal, Pune bench passed an order directing the state government that no construction should be allowed within 100 feet of hill slopes.
“As per the NGT direction, we have implemented a ban on the construction work within 100 feet of hill ranges. It will be implemented across the state,” said Dr. Nitin Kareer, Principal Secretary, Urban
Development Department(UDD), Maharashtra. TheGovernment Resolution (GR), from Wednesday, also stated that the civic bodies should reserve the area as an open space in their development plan.
No new permissions for construction should be given to the project that has already set up at the site. Moreover in such cases, Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) and additional Floor Space Index (FSI) will not be issued to the existing project. “Even if an existing project falls under the 100 feet limit, the demarcated space should be left non buildable which is an open area or road,” said an UDD official, Maharashtra.
Activists have welcomed the move as hillocks in Mumbai and suburban areas like Dindoshi, Yeoor and Kharghar hills have been degraded due to rampant construction over time. In January 2016 following a petition by NGO Vanashakti, the NGT directed the Thane Municipal Corporation to stop issuing construction permissions in the Dindoshi hills and Yeoor hills and forest area. but there were repeated instances of destruction of the natural trees in the hill range.
“Already the Parsik hill range in Navi Mumbai and Malabar hill in Mumbai have been destroyed for real estate projects. The move may help in preventing further destruction of the biodiversity of the city’s hills,” said Sumaira Abdulali, Founder of Awaaz Foundation. According to the Forest Department, the Parsik hill range along Shil phata area have been affected drastically with thousands of illegal houses built on the forest land.
Environmentalists have also weighed upon the precise definition of the term ‘hill range’. Debi Goenka, Founder of Conservation Action Trust said, “Due to the ambiguity in the term ‘hill range’, builders may use it to their benefit. As such it is important that the NGT order is strictly regulated by the government.”
According to the demarcation by the state government, areas that fall under 100 feet from the boundary of the hill is a No Development Zone. The NGT order from 2015 barred any construction on a land 100 feet from hill slopes and hilltops.
Hills that come under the regulation
- Powai Hill
- Chandivali Hill
- Worli Hill
- Antop Hill
- Parsik Hill
- Malabar Hill
- Dindoshi Hill