MUMBAI: Expressing shock over the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) clearance to hack about 54,000 mangroves for the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project, environmentalists have appealed to the President and Prime Minister to save the all important sea plants by finding an alternative route for the high speed train.
“Coming as it does ahead of the World Forestry Day being celebrated on March 21, the clearance to run the bullet train over mangroves across 13.36 hectares is a big blow to the City’s environment,” said an online open letter by The Nature Connect and Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan.
The letter is also addressed to citizens across Mumbai Metropolitan Region with the message #wakeupmubaiwakeup.
“We have experienced marooning of Chowpatty, Mithi River floods in Mumbai and massive devastation in Kerala very recently. Yet, we do not learn any lessons from the nature’s warnings,” Environmentalist B N Kumar, director of The Nature Connect, lamented.
While the Bullet Train could be envisaged as a public interest project, the larger interest is in protecting the City’s environment, the petitioners said and requested the President and the PM to ensure that the MoEF does not clear the destruction of mangroves.
“Bullet Train comes with a double whammy. The environment ministry has already given green signal for the project to run under flamingo and leopard zones in Sanjay Gandhi National Park,” Kumar said and remarked: “We fail to understand how a ministry which supposed to ensure environment protection is allowing environment destruction.”
Stating that “we are not at all against infrastructure development,” the activists asked as to if it should it come with environmental destruction. “Can the project proponents find an environment friendly, safer route for the bullet train?”
Paradoxically, the government of India and various states will observe the World Forestry Day with the theme being Forests and Education. And we have this ill-conceived, strange way of educating the people about forests by destroying greenery that cannot be re-created, Nandakumar Pawar, head of SEAP, said.
Pawar, a fisherman by profession, pointed out that mangroves do not grow anywhere and everywhere. They grow only tidal areas of the seas. Quoting BBC Environment Correspondent, he said: Scientists have long warned that climate change will bring extreme rainfall and powerful sea-storms that could flood cities. They say lakes, marshlands and river-floodplains absorb excess rainfall, while salt marshes and mangroves work as a buffer against storm surges.