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Maharashtra Human Rights Commission summons officials over Belapur Hill encroachment issue


The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has summoned senior officials from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, City and Industrial Development Corporation, and State Chief Secretary to address concerns about rampant encroachment on protected Belapur Hill areas. Environmental activists formed a human chain to raise awareness about unchecked illegal construction that threatens the environment and increases landslide risks. Residents say the issue has been ongoing for nine years without proper action. The Commission observed that authorities pass responsibilities instead of taking action and directed the Chief Secretary to determine accountability. In response to a complaint, the Chief Minister has also ordered an investigation into an alleged land grab racket involving constructions without approvals.

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Concerns raised by environmental activists about rampant encroachment on the Belapur Hill have drawn the attention of the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission. The Commission has issued summons on its own motion to senior officials from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), and the State Chief Secretary to address the issue and appear in person on Thursday.

The summons were issued on April 30th, directing the NMMC Commissioner, CIDCO Managing Director, Thane Collector, Principal Secretary and State Secretary to appear before the Commission. Green activists believe the summons reflect the authorities' failure to take action against large-scale unauthorized construction on the hill.

Last week, a human chain was formed to increase awareness about unchecked encroachments on the hill. Illegal structures have sparked concerns among residents about environmental damage, soil erosion and landslide risks. Director of NatConnect Foundation B.N. Kumar said that both NMMC and CIDCO have turned a blind eye to illegal activities. There are structures built illegally on the hilltop after cutting trees without permission. Landslides are always a risk.

Residents noted the issue has been pending for over nine years since Kalpataru Cooperative Housing Society reported an illegal temple to CIDCO. The Commission observed authorities are passing responsibilities instead of acting, directing the Chief Secretary to determine accountability.

Authorities must also file details of the Belapur hill's area, fact-finding on unauthorized construction and action taken, permissions granted, and cases addressed.

In response to a complaint by NatConnect Foundation, the Chief Minister has directed the Principal Secretary of Urban Development to investigate an alleged land grab racket involving temple construction on protected hill areas. According to the complaint, construction began with two to three temples but has now spread across the hill without proper approvals.

The summons and orders from the Human Rights Commission and Chief Minister indicate that high-level intervention is needed to resolve the long-pending issue of unauthorized development threatening the Belapur Hill's protected status. Strict enforcement action must be taken against illegal structures to safeguard the environment and communities, while also following due process in granting approvals to prevent further abuse and encroachment of protected land.

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