State environment ministry rejects proposal of state pollution control board that would have paved way for real estate development
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s (MPCB) bid to denotify the upper reaches of the Nag river from which Nagpur city gets its name has been struck down by the state environment ministry. In its order dated September 3, this year, the state environment department rejected the proposal.
Nag river was notified by the state environment department in June 2000 under the state government’s River Regulation Zone (RRZ) policy of the same year, along with 19 other rivers in the state. However, for 12 years after that neither the Nagpur Municipal Corporation nor the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board made any attempt to conserve the upper stretch of the river from village Lava in the outskirts of Nagpur city, to the Ambazari lake in the city. Since this stretch of the river receives water only during the monsoons, encroachments were appearing on the approximately 10 km stretch of the river.
Then, in September 2012, MPCB floated a proposal to denotify the river. The Nagpur municipality, in its reply to MPCB’s communication, identified the Ambazari lake in west Nagpur as the origin of the river, thus giving indirect support to the proposal. Sources say that both bodies were under tremendous pressure from builders and developers to denotify the stretch, which falls in the part of the city which is witnessing rapid urbanization.
Following the government order, MPCB has said in a statement issued to the media that the original status of the river will now be restored, but did not comment on whether it will order encroachment removal in the river bed and along its sides.
Environmentally sensitive area
Sudhir Paliwal of the non-profit Vidarbha Environment Action Group (VEAG) informed that the hillocks in Lava village are the origin of not just the Nag river but also two other rivers—Khekda Nala and a small stream that supplies water to Suraburdi lake near the city. “Due to development activities, some of the hillocks in the area have disappeared altogether,” he said. “There is dire need to conserve the remaining hillocks and remove encroachments from in and around the river.”
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