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 and the state has no jurisdiction over it." Adds Marcus Dabre of the local Harit Vasai Saurakshan Samiti, which vociferously opposes the plan: "It’s a scandal. The government is subverting the law in favour of developers."