EnvironmentMaharashtra

What makes Powai’s cycling track illegal?

What makes Powai’s cycling track illegal?

Bombay High Court allowed PILs challenging the construction of a cycling and jogging track around Powai Lake, saying it was illegal, a setback for the Mumbai civic body. In addition, the high court restrained the respondent Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) from undertaking any reclamation or construction work.

But before we get into that, what is Powai, and what is the jogging track project? Since 1891, the manmade Powai Lake in Mumbai’s eastern suburbs has been recognized as a wetland. Due to its unfitness for drinking, the water is being used for industrial purposes.

Due to its unfitness for drinking, the water is being used for industrial purposes. The lake holds more than 210 hectares of water and is covered by 6.61 square kilometers of the catchment area, based on data from the Central Institute of Fisheries Education.

The BMC proposed the 2021 building of a 10-km cycling track around Powai Lake as part of a plan to build cycling tracks throughout the city, a plan that also had the support of state Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray.

Aditya Thackeray to visit Ayodhya on June 10

And the opposition to the project that comes up is? The project has been opposed since its planning stages by residents and environmentalists. Others have stressed the negative impact the track will have on the Indian marsh crocodiles we find in the lake, saying the track would violate the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules.

There are concerns among environmentalists that the project will enable more development around the lake. Even the NGO Vanashakti has filed a complaint with the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

But along with that, there is a need for a cycling track as well which can not be ignored and that is now a new issue. A cycling track in Mumbai’s eastern suburbs will provide a much-needed, public and open community space, according to the city’s civic body.

Powai Lake Rejuvenation Project will also be carried out under the project, the association stated. It is estimated that 10.9 million liters of sewage are discharged directly into the lake each day, according to the BMC report. Untreated sewage is being discharged into Powai Lake through 19 culverts, causing pollution problems and causing an increase in water hyacinths, BMC officials have said.

Despite its existence as a man-made reservoir, the BMC maintains that the project is in the public interest and does not transgress wetland regulations. Furthermore, the civic body said that the track would be built using the latest ‘gabion technology’ without any reclamation or construction work.

There is no evidence that technology poses a threat to humans or the environment. Abion technology consists of simply placing PVC-coated, galvanized iron wire mesh baskets with stones arranged in baskets of various sizes, without any joinery, cement mortar, or fixings.

According to BMC, the technology uses “porous” materials and does not prevent water from flowing during monsoons. It has been reported that over 2,000 indigenous trees will be planted along the track.

Centre seeks response from state govt over BMC proposal on Powai lake |  Mumbai news

A Bombay High Court decision issued on Friday declared the construction of the cycling track to be illegal and prohibited BMC from doing any further reclamation or construction.

BMC was ordered to immediately remove the constructions carried out on the reclaimed land and restore it to its original position in response to the court’s decision to allow PILs to challenge its construction.

The BMC’s request to stay in the operation of its judgment was also rejected. The court suggested that the civic body should approach the Supreme Court. First, the high court temporarily halted construction of the project on November 1, last year, and the stay has continued several times since then. A stay of action was extended on April 25 until the verdict in the two PILs was delivered.

Junk cycle track at Powai lake to save crocodiles' | Mumbai News - Times of  India

An official statement from the BMC on Friday said that it “has always strived to create community spaces for the benefit of citizens” and the Powai project aims to create a similar space in the eastern suburbs. The order by the Hon’ble High Court, though disheartening, will be studied by the city’s legal counsel and an appropriate decision will be made in the city’s interest, it said. The BMC in Mumbai has always sought to serve the interests of its citizens and will continue to do so, within the parameters of the law.

Throughout the BMC’s existence, it has maintained that there have been no violations of any law or regulation and that every precaution has been taken to ensure that this project does not negatively impact the public, its habitat, or its environment. Moreover, according to the BMC, the order relates to the catchment area of Powai Lake, and not to the development of community spaces.

edited and proofread by nikita sharma

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