Milind Deora tells Devendra Fadnavis, save mangroves, don't mess with nature

Published: Jun 27, 2019, 14:12 IST | A Correspondent

Last fortnight, mid-day's ground report on five Uran villages fearing flooding is followed by news of 54,000 mangroves threatened by the bullet train; Mumbai Congress President Milind Deora appeals to CM to save eco-sensitive zones

Milind Deora tells Devendra Fadnavis, save mangroves, don't mess with nature
After a tidal channel was blocked NH348 in Pagote, Uran, for a road widening project, an entire 4.6 hectare mangrove patch dried out, destroying the rich fishing zone. PIC/SNEHA KHARABE

Nearly two weeks after mid-day reported how over 8,000 hectares of mangroves had been destroyed in the coastal town of Uran for a host of redevelopment projects, Mumbai Congress President Milind Deora has appealed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to refrain from development activities in eco-sensitive zones across the city.

Raising serious concerns over the indiscriminate development plans pursued by the Maharashtra government, Deora said, "It seems that we have forgotten the lessons of the 2005 deluge. This is extremely unfortunate. We are all for development, but not indiscriminate development that puts the city of Mumbai and Mumbaikars at grave risk."

Deora's reaction comes in light of a statement issued by the State Transport Minister Diwakar Raote, who told the Legislative Council that Maharashtra will soon lose 54,000 mangroves to the bullet train project. "Coastal road, salt pan lands and now the bullet train — in all three cases, the government seems to be perilously and recklessly permitting development at the cost of the environment and this can be very dangerous. I am urging the Chief Minister to immediately intervene and find solutions so that natural buffers like mangroves and salt pan lands are protected. I repeat, we are for development, but not at the cost of another deluge-like situation for the city," Deora said.

A 2014 study titled, Mangroves for Coastal Defence had pointed out that the dense roots of mangrove trees help bind and build soils and are an essential, natural defence to flooding apart from keeping pollution levels down. In Uran, the rampant ecological destruction due to debris dumping, has been compounded by unseasonal flooding, which according to locals, is a recent occurrence. Earlier this year, on the occasion of Holi, nearly five villages faced waterlogging during high tide. Deora said that low-lying regions in Mumbai could also be at risk of flooding, if more mangroves are destroyed.

Meanwhile, BN Kumar, director of The Nature Connect, an environmental group fighting to save Uran's ecological habitat said that he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CM Fadnavis "to find an alternative route to the bullet train and spare our mangroves". "This is too much. The government will be destroying mangroves equivalent to the size of five-and-a-half Azad Maidans. We are writing to the PM, CM and the mangrove committee to stop it," he told mid-day.

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