Navi Mumbai: Ulwe's Tirupati Balaji Temple Project Under Scrutiny Over Violating Norms

After allegations of CRZ violations, the National Green Tribunal inquires about the Tirupati Balaji temple project in Ulwe.

Navi Mumbai: Ulwe's Tirupati Balaji Temple Project Under Scrutiny Over Violating Norms

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has raised questions about the construction of a Tirupati Balaji temple in Ulwe. It asked the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) and the chief conservator of forests to provide progress reports. It should also be noted that environmentalists claim the project violates Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.

B. N. Kumar, an environmentalist and director of the NatConnect Foundation, had then filed an application on this. The NGT's western zonal bench heard the application on November 28.

At MCZMA's 167th meeting on May 23, Kumar's attorney, Ronita Bhattacharya, stated that the authority recommended CRZ approval for the project. However, they did not consider that the temple property was a temporary casting yard that emerged after the loss of over 16 hectares of mangroves.

The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) acknowledged the Balaji temple property as part of the casting yard for the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) in a press statement last year. The statement also said that MMRDA promised to allocate 10 acres for the temple by September 2023.

According to the MCZMA meeting, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam and CIDCO submitted the 40,000 square metres needed for the temple. Of this, 2,748.18 square metres were under CRZ1A, 25,656.58 square metres under CRZ2, and 11,595 square metres were not in the CRZ's jurisdiction.

An argument was made that there was no documentation showing that the MCZMA's decision was based on the required final permission from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority. The MCZMA had only approved construction in the non-CRZ area. When Kumar asked the environment department about the matter through an RTI, they asked him to approach the MCZMA minutes.

Bhattacharya also cited the forest department's inspection report. It said that the temple property was previously a marsh. The report also mentioned a fishing pond and mangroves 40–45 metres from the temple land.

The NGT Bench observed that the MCZMA has only recommended permission for temple construction so far. However, no CRZ clearance was obtained before the temple's construction was raised. The bench directed the forest department and MCZMA to file their responses in the next two weeks. The next hearing is scheduled for January 12.

MumbaiLive would like to send you latest news updates