It has come to the attention to certain environmentalists and local activists that excavation just outside the forest region at Kevala village in Panvel has resumed even after demands were made to suspend the action.
“There was a brief lull in the excavation activity after last week’s TOI report. However, it has been observed that several dumpers are again taking away massive volumes of excavated earth from the site, about 3km off the busy Panvel-Matheran road. Experts had pointed that a formal circular was issued, saying no excavation or mining activity can take place within 250 metres of a forest zone without a forest department NOC. The order was as per a Supreme Court verdict. So, why is this particular excavation being allowed?” questioned activist Anarjit Chauhan.
“While my office had recently issued the circular that a forest NOC must be taken for mining or excavation activity near the forest, it was only to ensure that no illegal work or activity happens, and that the district authorities like the mining officer or the collector are well informed about it. In case of the excavation at Panvel taluka, it is on private land so they may be well within their right to do so after taking permissions,” Alibag-based deputy conservator of forests, Maneesh Kumar said.
Recently, there was another similar case where certain people in Uran and other parts of Raigad where offenders had carried out a mining/excavation project against which strict action was taken.
However, activist Chauhan differed. “A 2007 Supreme Court order states mining or excavation is not permissible near the forest without a valid NOC. I have personally visited the site at Kevale in Panvel taluka and the extent of excavation is so much that there is always a fear of a landslide. The forest hill is separated from the excavation site by barely 10 to 15 metres.”
He has urged the forest and the revenue officials to pay a joint visit to the excavation site.