By Rajil Menon
Published: Sunday 15 March 2009

Maharashtra plans industries in its tourist spots

The Maharashtra government has invited companies to set up industries in a district, which it declared eco-sensitive 12 years ago.

On January 2, the government passed a resolution allowing thermal power plants, renewable energy projects, mining and stone crushers in the coastal district of Sindhudurg. The district with its backwaters, waterfalls and pilgrim centres was declared a tourism destination in 1997. "Apart from promoting tourism, the government plans to tap Sindhudurg's natural resources and set up industries," said G N Warade, director of the state environment department. "People in the state need employment," he said.

But environmental groups allege the resolution is to help the industry and the mining lobby, since the district is rich in iron ore, nickel and bauxite.

People in the district do not want mines and industries, said Jayendra Parulekar of Konkan Rakshan and Samruddhi Manch, a non-profit. In October 2008, the district administration had organized a public hearing for Metals and Minerals Private Limited, which wanted to set up a mining plant in the Dodamarg taluka. But the hearing got cancelled due to opposition by residents, said Parulekar.

"After devastating Goa, mining companies are targeting about 20 villages in Sindhudurg along the Goa-Maharashtra border," said Vaishali Patil of the anti- sez movement in the Konkan region. The National Thermal power Corporation has proposed projects in Dhakore and Munge villages and there are plans to set up two sezs in the district, she said.

Most people in Sindhudurg make a living from agriculture, horticulture, marine culture and tourism, said Rupesh Patkar, a resident of Sindhudurg. As mines and industries will pollute the region's waterbodies, destroy farmlands and affect the region's rich biodiversity, it will also affect tourism, said Patkar.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.