Forest land diverted to build 300-vehicle capacity car park at Sanjay Gandhi National Park
The state has diverted one hectare of forest land to build 300-vehicle capacity car park at Sanjay Gandhi National Park; green lovers upset as Krishnagiri Upvan may be hacked for the project
Once the project is implemented, entry of private vehicles will be prohibited. File pic for representation
The proposed parking lot inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) may soon be a reality. Following years of protest by green activists and months of delay on the part of the civic authorities, the state has finally passed a government resolution (GR) to build a 300-vehicle capacity car park near the SGNP's front gate. The move, however, has not gone down well with environment activists as a significant portion of the Krishnagiri Upvan, a garden developed in 2014 at a cost of R10 lakh, is likely to be utilised to construct the parking lot.
According to sources, the Revenue and Forest Department has issued a GR to divert one hectare (2.44 acre) of the forestland for the project.
Confirming the move, an SGNP official said, "In October 2017, the R-Central ward committee had approved construction of a parking lot beside the SGNP ticket counter. After retrieving the approval certificate from the suburban collector, it was sent to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. On February 12, we received the final clearance for the project, work on which is likely to begin, soon."
Explaining the need for the massive parking lot, the official said, "It will help reduce the air and noise pollution within the SGNP as entry of private vehicles inside the park will be prohibited. Only battery-operated buses would be allowed to ply tourists inside the SGNP. The parking lot will also serve as the pick up and drop off joint for the tourist buses."
On September 18, 2017, mid-day had reported (SGNP garden to make way for parking space) that SGNP, the city's green lung, is slated to lose at least one hectare of land for construction of the parking lot.
Green activists have been protesting against the project since the last three years, when the parking lot was first proposed. But, they say they are disappointed with the civic authorities and the government because the Krishnagiri garden, which was recently developed, would be destroyed to make way for the parking lot.
Speaking to mid-day, nature activist Ratnakar Sawant said, "It's great that the authorities are planning to bar entry of private vehicles inside the park. But, if the parking lot project was in the pipeline since years, why was the Krishnagiri garden developed? Now, the authorities will destroy more green cover to concretise the city. People in the government responsible for project planning must be able to foresee such destruction before implementing a project."
Morning and evening walkers, who frequent the Krishnagiri garden, have also slammed the move. The garden is also popular among citizens because of butterfly sightings. But, the SGNP official said, "The noise and air pollution at the park is tremendous during weekends, holidays and in the monsoon. As there is not much space to park cars near the entry point, the authorities have no option but to use the garden area for the project."
Three years ago, SGNP authorities had proposed a parking lot on the plot adjacent to the main gate of the park in order to decongest the area. Once the project is implemented, tourists would be able to avail of the battery-operated buses that the authorities have plans to develop with the help of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation. According to sources, these buses will ferry tourists around the park and till the Kanheri caves. The parking lot is likely to accommodate 255 four wheelers and 125 two wheelers.