24 July, 2021

Bye Bye, Tiger Wood

A blueprint plans golf etc on 20,000 acres of the Vasai forest

Abhijit Bhatlekar
Bye Bye, Tiger Wood
A lush forest turns a giant golf course overnight? Well, on paper, it’s already happened. The Ajit Warty committee appointed by the Maharashtra government to chart out the development of Mumbai’s northern suburbs has conveniently ignored the very existence of the Vasai forest in its report. Instead, it’s laid the ground for the clearing of 20,000 acres of forest land (valued at Rs 17,000 crore), located just around 50 km from the city centre.

If the state gives the go-ahead to the draft, the Vasai forest will make way for a green "tourism" zone. And the kind of construction spelt out in the plan: "golf clubs and links (sic), regional parks, amusement parks, holiday homes and hostels, swimming pools, gliding facilities...temporary camps for recreation of all types".

The plan to merge forest land into a green zone and throw it open to tourism has come as a surprise to forest officials. More so as the Vasai forest is protected by the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. Points out Shirish Asthana, deputy forest conservator, Vasai region: "Forest land is owned by the Centre...

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