Frankly my dear, do we even care a dam(n)?

Updated: Feb 29, 2020, 07:06 IST | The Editorial | Mumbai

Now, every option must be exercised to see if there is any other method by which water can be enhanced instead of availing of this option

The Tansa Gargai Dam project site; the critically-endangered Forest Owlet was spotted in the area a few years ago. Pic/Yogesh Patel
The Tansa Gargai Dam project site; the critically-endangered Forest Owlet was spotted in the area a few years ago. Pic/Yogesh Patel

The civic body's plans for the Gargai dam in the Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary involve eating up 720 hectares of forest land and destruction of over four lakh trees, which is equal to the tree population of the entire Aarey Milk Colony. The BMC is silent about the colossal tree loss, since the project's announcement, a front page report in this paper stated.

The indigenous trees that are on the block, if this goes though, are integral to the rich ecosystem of the 720-hectare land. The Gargai dam is meant to meet the present and future drinking water requirements of the city. In addition, 280 tribal families staying in seven nearby villages will also have to be rehabilitated.

Now, every option must be exercised to see if there is any other method by which water can be enhanced instead of availing of this option. It is also hugely ironical that life-giving trees, part of the larger and very valuable ecological balance, will be destroyed to provide another life-giving substance — water.

Experts on board can look at other ways. If this is simply non-negotiable, can these trees be replanted elsewhere? If they can, it should be done through expertise within the vicinity itself. One has to remember the huge resistance and non-negotiable approach of activists when a Metro car shed inside Aarey was going to result in the destruction of substantial trees. This dam project must see similar, robust debate and every alternate explored so that the trees can be preserved. In every infrastructure project every effort must be made to save our green cover, through all possible means. That means, take the less-harmful-to-environment route, even it is more convoluted, and at times, expensive. After all, you cannot put a price tag on the intangible benefits trees give us. In a green-starved metropolis, every tree is a precious emerald worthy to be held on to.

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