A Gazette for Tungareshwar Wild Life Sanctuary issued on 24th December, 2018 mentioned the inclusion of four villages Paye, Payegaon, Brahmangaon and Khardi under Eco Sensitive Zone of Tungareshwar Wild Life Sanctuary.
Protest was raised by all Gram Panchayat, local M.P., MLA and Shramik Sangathan. The Inclusion was done without offering any public hearing or intimation by way of publishing the news in newspapers or any public media. This was done without observing any Ground reality of the Area.
In 34th Expert Committee Meeting dated 6th March 2019, Maharashtra Government recommended and represented to the Committee for removal of these villages from the proposed boundary of the said Eco Sensitive Zone; but no response was given by the committee. Thereafter in 36th Expert Committee Meeting dated 18th July 2019, the Committee declined the request of Maharashtra Government and finalized the gazette.
With the finalization of Tungareshwar Wild Life Sanctuary gazette on dated 11th September, 2019, the Forest Department of Maharashtra Government included the villages Paye, Payegaon, Brahman Village and Khardi, situated at Vasai Bhiwandi Road, Taluka Bhiwandi, District Thane covering about 381.757 Hectare of Private Land, in ESZ. The Revenue Department (Collector) unexpectedly immediately served a Stop Work Notice dated 1st October 2019 to the Crushers and Brick Kilns, stopping all the Construction Stones & Bricks Manufacturing activities.
Mr. Kantilal Ganpat Devlikar, President of Paye Brahmangaon Mining & Stone Crushers Owners Association stated that major villagers are Adivasis and have no other income source, not even from farming, due to rocky terrain of this village area. Thus, local people were majorly dependant on businesses like stone crushing, quarrying work, transportation of stones, brick manufacturing, machinery hiring, hotels for food for the migrant labours, etc.; all these have stopped for now. Each crusher unit used to generate around 65 to 100 jobs directly or indirectly for the people who were non-educated or educated (like operators, mining labour, drivers, helpers, mechanics, electricians, transporters, hoteliers, watchman, housekeeping, etc.). Around 20,000 people have lost their livelihood because of this closure. Even huge revenue by way of royalty, GST & income tax have been lost by the government. In addition, there was an investment of 190 Crore in the industry of these four villages, which had a component of around 100 Crore bank loan, feared to become NPA.
It is also estimated that Maharashtra Government will loose Crores of Rupees as royalty.
These quarries and crushers were producing the Best Quality hard Black Rock (Basalt Stone), considered as preferred choice over any other rocks, by the Engineers, for City Infrastructure Development Projects around Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan. The strength and many other good properties of this stones facilitated in better construction quality, lesser fuel emissions due to the proximity to these cities, reduced transportation cost and above all reduction in cement requirement, thereby overall helping in reducing the Carbon Footprint.
Now after the closure, the stones are being sourced from Manor, Wada, Palghar, Uran and Gavan area; where the stones are of inferior quality. As these places are located far from Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan, there is more fuel emission and increased cost of transport. This in turn increases the construction cost resulting in added expenditure to the State Government and eventually increasing the burden on the Common Man.
These 4 villages were never part of a forest and were in existence since decades and also the adjoining small patch (presented as existing forest) is actually not a forest and is totally rocky area. There have never been any wandering or sightings of any wild animals in the past 20 years in these area due to the presence of dense human population.
Mr. Sanjay M. Shah, Hon. Secretary of Paye Brahmangaon Mining & Stone Crushers Owners Association stated that they all have demanded that the limits of the eco-sensitive zone be revised by re-demarcation of ESZ boundaries and the area of four villages be released from this enforced ESZ.
Around 381.757 Hectare private land was Forced into Eco Sensitive Zone without any prior information or any study on wild life, No public hearing or any kind of sharing of information provided to land owners, villagers without permitting them an opportunity or representation in this regard, which is against Principles of Natural Justice provided in the constitution of India to every citizen.
The Association has represented many times to the Maharashtra Government as well as to Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change awaiting their positive action.
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