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ILLEGAL QUARRYING ACTIVITIES AT SHIRAWANE STILL CONTINUES UNABATED EVEN AFTER FORMER ENVIRONMENT MINISTER GANESH NAIK CLAIMS SHUT DOWN OF ALL QUARRYING ACTIVITIES IN THE CITY

quarry-2Residents of Sector 8 and 9, CBD Belapur are the latest victims of the ill-effects of unchecked illegal quarrying taking place at Shirawane hills. Yet another environment destruction act that has forced residents to live under constant fear. These quarries are continuing unabated despite former Environment Minister Ganesh Naik’s diktat to shut down all quarrying activities in the city. The Right to Information Act is a truly a tool in the hand of tax paying citizens. The Act has exposed how illegally hills in Shirawane are being used for quarrying activities, not only constantly damaging environment but the strong vibrations and jolts caused by the quarrying activity near the hill have disturbed all peace for residents who experience severe trembling and vibrations due to the loud explosions. Residents of the area had noticed cracks on their walls due to constant blasting in the nearby hills. They believe that the row houses built by CIDCO are not strong enough to withstand the pressure anymore. Residents also complain that their doors and windows shatter and they have to bear with lot of expense in repairing the walls but the cracks re-appear again. Residents say that it is wrong that quarrying permissions have been given without inviting suggestions and objections of residents. Another resident said that it was more dangerous as high tension wires run along their houses. Fortunately for the residents, it was one among them who exposed the issue of illegal quarrying on Shirawane hills using the RTI. Speaking to NMTV News Harishchandra Mhatre said that authorities cannot give permission to quarries in the middle of the city. He said that the RTI he put at the Thane Collector’s office states this. He said the quarries are flouting norms as intensity of blasts is much higher than permissible limits. What comes as a shocker is that authorities are well aware of the fact that only one quarry has permission on Shirawane hills yet many are being run illegal. In response to Mhatre’s RTI, the Thane Collectorate had replied that it has given permission to 74 quarries in Navi Mumbai after receiving NOC from CIDCO, of which it had given permission only to one quarry in the Shirvane area. CIDCO, however, maintains that 16 quarry owners are operating in the said area. Mhatre says that CIDCO has every reason to take action against the illegal quarrying taking place on Shirawne hills under the law. Mhatre says that despite the battle the residents have put up against illegal quarrying, the constant blasting compel them to think that their houses won’t be able to withstand the blasting very soon. After Mhatre filed the application under RTI, the engineering team of CIDCO visited their homes and reported to the State Information Commissioner that the cracks were only

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