Mumbai: Rampant destruction of mangroves along Mumbai’s coast and reckless quarrying of hillsides in Navi Mumbai are converting the boom in Mumbai and its neighbouring suburbs into an environmental doom, said environmentalists.
Though this year’s Earth Day 2018 to be held on April 22 has a theme End to Plastic Pollution, concerned citizens here are raising an alarm over all round environmental dangers being faced by the city.
At a #BoomCityDoomCity campaign held on Friday, ‘Mangrove Warrior’ Nandakumar Pawar said, “Mumbai and its surroundings will face a terrible environmental disaster if the all-round wanton destruction continues,” he said.
He said quarrying at Parsik Hills in Navi Mumbai had resumed, after a quarry operator obtained an environmental clearance for blasting at Borivli village in an industrial area of Mahape.
He said he was extremely worried about the systematic destruction of mangroves, that have a unique ecosystem of protecting coastal areas from erosion as well as storm surge and tsunamis. Whilst there has been rampant dumping of debris and garbage over mangroves that are gradually being usurped by builders, “the destruction is also happening at the official level. Even the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust has destroyed mangroves and built a road.”
Armed with photographs as proof of this environmental ravage as well as of quarrying in Parsik Hills, he said the deputy conservator of forests, Thane, had said at a meeting of the district level environment assessing authority that as much 264.10 hectares has been mined against the permissible area of 138.07 hectares.
Even Uran, a part of Navi Mumbai with 2,000 villages, once had 36,000 hectares of mangroves which were a paradise for birds as well as for the fishing community. But Coastal Regulation Zone rules are being gradually amended to accommodate development and the face of Uran has changed.
Speaking at the seminar held by the Public Relations Council of India at the Mumbai Press Club, Pawar remarked that the new upcoming airport at Navi Mumbai and other projects would entail the destruction of mangroves which barely survive when replanted.
“We are not against development but as a fisherman by birth, I know the importance of mangroves,” he says.
Advocate Girish Raut of NGO Save Earth spelt out how thousands of hectares of mangroves were destroyed for development of Bandra-Kurla Complex and other areas in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. He was aghast as to why planners did not seem to realise the perils of destruction of nature.
Contributing to nature conservation, Himanshu Prem Joshi, under whose leadership a vast green belt has been developed on a garbage dump in Andheri, said, “The Bhavana Nature and Adventure Centre set up here also creates awareness among schoolchildren and adults.”