When the earthquake and tsunami hit japan, a warning bell was rung back home. Experts of geological survey of India got together to study the conditions and repercussions if an earthquake happened in India. And the findings were that reclaimed areas in and around Mumbai will be under threat if a deep-sea earthquake, above 5 on the richter scale, hits the commercial capital of the country. This is a warning bell for Navi Mumbai that has been erected mostly on reclaimed land. At the center of all worries in Navi Mumbai is parsik hills. With both horizontal and vertical destruction of the hills to give way to concrete structures, the threat looms large on life and property. Dy. Editor Sana Warsia sums up these concerns on our weekend exclusive “have land sharks made parsik hills a high risk disaster zone?”
When japan was struck by the most powerful earthquake in its history and the tsunami unleashed, the disaster’s massive impact had a lot to teach the world. The 8.9-magnitude temblor, killed hundreds of people, caused the formation of 30-foot walls of water that swept across rice fields, engulfed entire towns, dragged houses onto highways, and tossed cars and boats like toys. Some waves reached six miles, which is 10 kilometers high!! Buildings shook, heaved and collapsed by the score, and numerous fires ignited even as hundreds of people went missing. As the world watched horrified, experts all over the world started doing some homework for their countries. So did India where geological survey of India officials measured the risk to Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and thane after friday’s quake in japan. These experts later announced that reclaimed areas like Navi Mumbai will be under threat if a deep-sea earthquake, above 5 on the richter scale, hits the commercial capital of the country. Since it is a known fact that fault lines run through nerul and uran that are seismic zones, parsik hills gains significance. Standing tall in the heart of the city, parsik hills is the most strategically important green zone of the city. However, today it has become a victim of land sharks that hand in glove with governing bodies are systematically destroying the hills. The threat looms larger on parsik hills today more than ever more because of two construction activities taking place simultaneously here. On one side the base of hill is being cut and trees mercilessly removed for construction of apollo hospital and on the other side, at the foot of the hill – trees and green cover is being cut and removed for erecting buildings for a project belonging to bhupendra shah’s bhumiraj group. At the apollo site, a visit is enough to explain how this part of the hills is being cut and trees uprooted for giving way to open plots for construction. In the past, locals along with walkers and joggers were witness to the tree cutting that was carried out to give way for plots for apollo hospital.
Similarly, at the foot of the hills where the bhupendra shah’s controversial project is coming up, the entire green cover has been wiped off and the hill has been flattened and leveled for erecting concrete structures.
It’s shocking how the politicians run cidco ever allotted plots in such thick green cover on parsik hills for construction despite knowing for a fact that this could be done only at the cost of massive environment destruction and massacre of greenery. While these two construction activities have increased the threat looming on parsik hills, these aren’t the only ones. Prior to this; several other instances were also reported where one witnessed destruction of the flora and fauna and systematic burning down of the green cover on parsik hills.
Another vulnerable accident zone seems to be the part of the hill where NMMC has constructed its water tank for water supply from morbe dam. The NMMC’s claims the reservoir on this site at the top of parsik hills will help supply water without consuming power through gravitational force. Experts however beg to differ. They have voiced concern on this in the past several times. They point out that the water tank is not completely stable as it has been built on soft soil and on a slope of a hill. The direction of the waterfall is towards the side of the tank, which can even lead to the tank collapsing down on the it colony below, if any disaster was to occur.
Whenever an earthquake or tsunami has hit any part of the world, chances of damage to life and property is at highest risk in areas like parsik hills that have been destroyed horizontally and vertically for commercial exploitation. So why is that governing bodies like NMMC and cidco continue to ignore the message from japan quake. Experts say it is all about the money. Construction on slopes like that is being done on parsik hills, is also increasing the chances of landslides.
What’s worse is that even union environment minister jairam ramesh seems to be one of those politicians who make a hue and cry over insignificant environmental issues even as graver issues continue to be neglected. Environmentalist debi goeka says that the builder-politician-bureaucratic nexus is so strong that by the time it is exposed, environment destruction has already been done. Besides the danger that looms large on parsik hills, the continuous destruction of the hills is also eroding its significance as being the lungs of Navi Mumbai that is surrounded by a chemical belt and has been declared the most polluted city in the state.
The manner in which benefits are being given to builders at the cost of citizens, there is little hope for the city. Parsik hills is under grave danger but why blame the corrupt builder-politician-bureaucratic nexus when the residents of the area themselves choose to sit within their homes even as environment is being destroyed in their own neighborhood. For these residents ignorance is bliss as they continue to neglect the message that the japan quake gave to the world. With bureau inputs, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.