'Why can't they see the mangroves?'

Updated: Dec 10, 2016, 10:52 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Activist claims that the proposed site for the Chhatrapati Shivaji statue will be harmful to the marine biodiversity of the area; claims state’s Environment Impact Assessment report conveniently omitted the presence of mangroves

The proposed site of the statue
The proposed site of the statue

Even s the state government has proclaimed that the Malabar Point location in Arabian Sea for the proposed R2500-cr Chhatrapati Shivaji statue was chosen because there is little marine biodiversity in the area, a Mumbai-based environmental activist begs otherwise.

Pradip Patade
Pradip Patade

‘Marine life thrives’
After four years of research, Pradip Patade and Damodar Tandel approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) with collected evidence, insisting that there is rich marine biology to be found at the proposed site for the 192-metre tall statue, going as far as alleging that the findings in the Environment Impact Assessment report prepared by the government were misleading with omissions; most significantly in relation to the presence of mangroves in the area.

Sample of the marine biodiversity
Sample of the marine biodiversity

“The area has a great marine biodiversity, and the construction activity will have a negative impact on it. Before going ahead with their proposal, the government should consider all these things,” said Patade.

Meanwhile, Patade has also alluded that the National Institute of Oceanography report of June 2014 —later used by the PWD department to justify the proposal — had categorically documented the presence of marine biodiversity and the presence of the mangroves in the area, but the government had chosen to ignore aspects of it in the executive summary.

“I have visited the area and there are mangroves in the stretch. If I can see the mangroves, then why can’t the government see the mangroves?” alleged Patade.

Government response
After the NGT notice to the state to respond to the issues raised by Patade and Tandel, the state government asked the NGT’s western region bench in Pune to dismiss the petition saying it was “wholly baseless, misconceived and unsubstantiated”.

300 species spotted
While the NIO report mentioned 58 types of Phytoplanktons, Patade claims he has photographed around 300 other marine biodiversity including 50 types of fish. Most of them are ornamental like sea horse, pipefish, angel, butterfly, parrot, puffers, and stingrays.

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