Mumbai: Forest department turns to satellite images to save Parsik Tunnel
mid-day impact: Ropes in IIT-B to carry out a survey of forestland boundaries in 15 days to decide which structures are illegal and need to be demolished
mid-day's story on the threat facing the Parsik Tunnel from two schools built illegally right on top of it has made the forest department take the hi-tech route to get to the bottom of the issue — it is poring over time-lapse satellite images of the location to ascertain boundaries of the forestland. Having already served notices to the two schools, it is now working with the IIT-B to survey the area further. The department will be able to demolish all illegal structures based on the technical report of boundaries.
'Where were authorities earlier?'
mid-day had earlier reported how the Sharda Hindi School and Kalwa High School, operating for decades now, endanger the tunnel. The school authorities, however, say the schools were started in the 90s, and until last year, no one from the forest authorities had come forward to claim the land. Neither school has permission from the forest department, and yet, they received the same from the zilla parishad (ZP) and Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC). Dr B Pal of Sharda school said, "We have been here since long. Forest department never came to us. Also, earlier, railways had demolished part of our school as well as that of Kalwa school, citing threat to the tunnel. Now, once again, saying it is facing issues because of us is false."
'Demolition based on report'
Forest department officer Dr Jitendra Ramangaokar said, "They have already been served notices. To ascertain the boundaries of the forestland, IIT is carrying out a survey of the entire Thane taluka. The report is expected with time-lapse satellite images. We will be able to demolish all illegal structures based on it." Over the years, the condition of tunnel has deteriorated so much that there have been numerous seepages and waterfalls inside it, and illegal construction over it being among the primary reasons behind it.
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