The construction of a third bridge over Vashi creek, one of the busiest road corridors in India, will see the relocation of mangroves in a city that continues to witness rapid ‘development,’ which sadly threatens its natural resources
Ashok Kumar | Clarion India
MUMBAI – About 1.4 hectares of land in a village near Borivili creek in north Mumbai has been allocated by the collectorate as compensatory afforestation of mangroves that will be uprooted for a third road bridge over Vashi creek.
Acting on a plea by environmentalists opposing the shifting of mangroves to accommodate the new bridge, the state government had sought clarifications from agencies. MSRDC, the executing agency, suggested an alternative in north Mumbai. “We only hope that after the bridge comes up the rest of the land that becomes free will once again be restored as mangroves,” B.N. Kumar, director, NatConnect Foundation, told Clarion India on Saturday.
The Mumbai-Navi Mumbai road corridor is one of the busiest in India with thousands of cars, buses and trucks traversing every day on the main bridge that connects the island city to the mainland. While the old bridge is weak and is rarely being used, the existing one caters to the existing needs, but sees massive traffic snarls. The authorities felt there was need for yet another wider and bigger overbridge to span the Vashi Creek.
But rapid urbanisation and development of new infrastructure in the metropolis is worrying environmentalists. A recent study warned that Mumbai’s green cover has fallen sharply in a 30-year span because of ‘development’ – from 46.7 per cent in 1988 to just 26.67 per cent in 2018.
A new citizens’ collective, Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic, has launched a ‘Biodiversity by the Bay campaign’ focussing on the need for sustainable development to boost protection of the city’s environment. The group has urged the state government to declare the 3,000-plus-acre Aarey Milk Colony in the heart of suburban Mumbai as a forest.
Environmentalists are worried that open spaces in the north-western suburbs, right from Powai lake to the Aarey colony and the Borivili National Park, are facing a formidable challenge with skyscrapers coming up in the area. “Mumbai has a lot of forest cover in this area,” Bhagwan Keshbat, founder, Waatavaran Climate, Environment and Sustainability Foundation, told this correspondent on Saturday. “We believe we have to engage with the citizens, especially the younger generation, highlighting these aspects so that they will ensure protection even in the future.”
The NGOs have been interacting with law students in Mumbai, encouraging them to take up various environmental issues and see that the greenery is not destroyed in the metropolis, he adds.