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BPCL Looking To Cut Down Thane Creek Forest

BPCL Looking To Cut Down Thane Creek Forest


The Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) has put forth a proposal to The Union environment ministry’s Regional Empowered Committee (REC) in Nagpur and had sought permission to cut down 11,904 trees (including at least 2,500 mangroves) in the eco-sensitive zone of Thane creek. This proposal is put forth to lay down a pipeline connecting the BPCL refinery in Mahul (Mumbai) to an upcoming petrochemical complex in Rasayani (Raigad) about 53 km away.


BPCL’s proposed unit in Rasayani will process 45,000 tonnes per annum polypropylene (PP) which is a thermoplastic polymer used in large quantities by the plastic processing industry and act as a storage and processing unit for PP.


The proposal was initially put forward in December 2020 to the state government of Maharashtra. The state forwarded this to the REC Nagpur in March 2021. On further examination by the REC, It was discovered that the estimated numbers of trees and mangroves to be affected was inaccurate and the proposal was halted until further notice.


The REC mentioned in its report that “alternative alignments have not been examined properly” and requested the state government to “explore the possibility of shifting proposed alignment” to prevent the destruction of fresh forest land and to save considerable forest land.


After deliberations between the state and the central government, BPCL is expected to get forest, environment, and Coastal Zone Regulation (CRZ) clearances to proceed with their proposal ahead.


The REC has asked the state government to submit two detailed reports — one on the number of trees proposed for felling, and another on the pipeline’s alignment before the proposal is considered further.


The concerned authorities should learn from the precedent of a similar case that took place in the year 2019 when BPCL put forth a similar proposal in front of the district panchayat in Kochi. The proposal was to cut down 17 acres of forest land to develop a petrochemical park in the region.


The president of the Tree and Environment committee of the district panchayat, Dolly Kuriakose, agreed to grant the permission on one condition – that the BPCL must first plant 43,000 saplings in a govt. approved area.


The rule states that for every fully grown tree to be cut, 10 new saplings have to be planted to maintain the green quotient of the planet. Following this rule before granting permission to cut trees or forests to any corporation would benefit the planet hugely and maintain the ecological balance.


As for the Thane creek, the proposal is yet to be cleared by the authorities and is still a work-in-progress matter. Along with affecting the forest, which happens to be a government-recognized flamingo sanctuary; the project also destroys a lot of Mangroves present in the region.


Biological conservationists and ecologists have been talking about the importance of mangroves for a long time. They are actively voicing out their concerns about the diminishing mangrove forests in all parts of India. They describe mangroves as natural protection from marine dangers like floods, tsunamis, and aquatic life washing up ashore. Mangroves also help retain the strength and quality of the soil they are on, courtesy of their humongous roots that absorb all the excess water and surplus nutrients coming in from the sea.


Mangroves are also the home to some of the most diverse flora and fauna which is known to mankind. From the Bengal white tiger to insectivorous plants, mangroves have naturally evolved to sustain life in harsh conditions and are a valuable asset to our ecosystem.


 


With the increasing need for fuel and chemicals, we are ignoring the effect industrialization has on nature. The ease with which permissions are granted by the government to cut down forests is an important matter and the authorities need to do thorough examinations before and after the permission is granted to check whether the companies are indeed living up to their word and rejuvenating the green belt as agreed.


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Tags: #mumbai #nature #forest #mangroves @environment #NaviMumbai



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