In our series “Your Ward ! Your Corporator !” we have an issue from a ward that is very serious in nature. Something that every citizen must be aware of and should not permit their public representatives to do as it directly impact environment and puts the city to the threats of global warming effects. We are talking about ward no. 47 where the local congress corporator’s pressure led to NMMC illegally developing a garden within a holding pond. In our weekend expose today we try to find the answer whether this corporator from Vashi is an environment friend or environment destroyer? This is an illegal garden. It’s graver than it looks as it built within a holding pond reducing its original capacity. Anyone would naturally think that NMMC would take action against this illegal garden but in this case they can’t. The reason is a shocker – because NMMC’s the one that has built this illegal garden within the holding pond of Mini Seashore at Vashi. For those who have missed our reports on this issue earlier – let’s bring to you all the facts again. Who does not know that before CIDCO developed Navi Mumbai, part of Vashi was only marshy land and salt pans? This included what has today been developed into Sector 5, 6, 7 and 8 of Vashi. The settlements in these sectors are prone to flooding during monsoons when high tide & heavy rains coincide and 26 / 11 was a testimony of this fact. In order to tackle this problem CIDCO had developed this holding pond at Sector 10A Vashi that is popularly knows as the mini seashore area today. When CIDCO handed over the node of Vashi to NMMC, this holding pond was handed over too. In the agreement signed between both the parties it was categorically stated that NMMC would use the holding pond only as a holding pond and for no other purpose. The clause in the agreement went on to state that if it was found NMMC used the holding pond for any other purpose, CIDCO would be entitled to take back the holding pond. And even if this clause was not there, who does not know the significance of a holding pond. Despite the significance of this holding pond, a few years ago, under clear pressure from the local corporator of the area Avinash Lad, the corporators-officials nexus plaguing NMMC got to work and floated a plan to fill a portion of the holding pond and convert it into a garden. A project floated for reasons not hard to comprehend. Over the last few years, NMMC has spent lacs of the tax payer’s money to fill up 85 000 sq. ft. of this holding pond and develop thereon a garden admeasuring 30000 sq.ft. As a result the capacity of the holding pond has dangerously reduced while the threat of flooding to the surrounding sectors has increased tremendously. However, this misuse of public funds would have never been exposed had it not been for social activist Sandeep Thakur. Soon after Sandeep Thakur took the matter up with City Engineer Mohan Dagaonkar, Executive Engineer Neerpagare was asked to investigate the same. And in his report, the engineering department confirmed that the NMMC had in fact converted a part of the holding pond in violation of the agreement with CIDCO and the same report also stated that this was done at the instance of the local corporator Avinash Lad. Later Commissioner Vijay Nahata visited site and reportedly ordered his department to restore the pond. The order was given in the month of April. Till August this year, the Commissioner’s subordinates did not follow their Chief’s instructions. It was then that CIDCO intervened in the matter. In a letter to Commissioner Vijay Nahata, CIDCO Manager of Town Services asked NMMC to remove the illegal garden inside the holding pond. It reminded NMMC that holding ponds are CIDCO’s property and NMMC are only caretakers. At a time when public leaders on both the international, national and local front are talking about creating awareness on protecting natural resources like open spaces, water bodies and holding ponds to tackle global warming effects – this corporator has committed the gravest blunder or can we call it a blunder? Instead of promoting awareness on protecting the water bodies and bountiful natural resources of his ward, Congress Corporator Avinash Lad allegedly pressurized NMMC to develop an illegal garden within the holding pond. Open air defecation – is the prime reason that Avinash Lad sights for them developing an illegal garden within a holding pond. But social activist Sandeep Thakur says that the corporator’s line of justifying the illegal act is ridiculous. Avinash Lad also questions why Sandeep Thakur cannot see the condition of the holding pond and get it cleaned instead of targeting the garden. Looks like Avinash Lad has forgotten that the voters of his ward have elected him as their corporator, not Sandeep Thakur. The responsibility of getting the holding pond cleaned is not on the alert activist but of the corporator. What’s rather unfortunate is that all officials of NMMC admit that the garden is illegal and the Commissioner himself has ordered that the garden should be removed but his orders are not being followed. No points for guessing that it’s the pressure of the corporator that is deterring NMMC officials to check the correction. He challenges that no one can take action against the garden. And now take a look at how ignorant a corporator can be. According to Avinash Lad, there is no relation between a holding pond and environment. During the 26 July deluge, holding ponds of Navi Mumbai had played a crucial role. If holding ponds and water bodies are encroached upon and obstructed like this, then you are holding the city’s environment at ransom. But how can one expect corporator Avinash Lad to understand this when he believes that there is no relation between environment and holding ponds – he clearly does not even know the basics of environment and how an eco-system works. There is a reason why Navi Mumbai is called a planned city. And this reason includes the city having open spaces, greenery, water bodies and holding ponds to maintain equilibrium with environment and nature. With the threat of rising sea level due to global warming, if we do not protect these resources today, then future generations will have to face the consequences of these mistakes tomorrow. It’s the people who should decide whether the corporator is an environment friend or environment destroyer. And whether voters will make irresponsible corporators accountable, we’ll find out in Municipal Elections 2010 ! Sana Warsia – NMTV News.
September 12, 2016
August 16, 2007