As per the latest media report, the Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor will connect Nhava Sheva Port to Dadri in Uttar Pradesh. The project is a part of the Central government’s effort to boost infrastructure. The approximately 1,500 Km corridor is expected to cost a huge 90 billion USD, to be funded by Japan and will put the commute between Delhi and Mumbai on a faster track. However, the big shock is that this corridor will run through vast tracts of forest land cutting through the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali and the forest divisions in Dahanu and Thane. Why destroy the landmark forest land of Sanjay Gandhi National Park?
What is the real purpose behind the destruction of the city’s forest cover? In fact, I learn that the state forest department itself had raised objections earlier? The National park is a magnificent landmark of the city visited and enjoyed by the citizens. Even environmentalists visit the park for carrying out research studies too. The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) regularly organises trek and trips for its members (my son, a ‘nature lover’ is a member).
Very recently we saw how a leopard strayed inside the Bangalore school premises and literally mauled a couple of people. Why do animals stray into the city? Most cases of leopards straying into the city are due to encroachments into the forest area. Many environmentalists, wild life activists have been trying to explain this for years. We have been in fact even saying that no concrete developments should be allowed even in the vicinity of such national parks which house animals, rare species, birds, reptiles and so on. Why disturb them and encroach into habitat of animals which ultimately make them ‘escape’ into the city and attack people?
The national park is not just a wildlife sanctuary and a green lung but also a water catchment area for the city. It is a sensitive ecological zone that needs every sort of protection for our own lives. Shiv Sena youth brigade president Aditya Thackeray has raised serious objection to this project and has said that he will not allow the destruction of forest. I support the stand taken by Aditya and Shiv Sena on environmental conservation. He and his party must take steps to protect the National park at all costs.
Many open spaces in the city are already grabbed by the vested interests and builders and you will only see tall concrete structures replacing even gardens and maidans. In certain areas even the mangroves are destroyed. We have still not learnt lessons from several natural calamities like heavy floods, earthquake etc. and how important it’s today to preserve trees and mangroves, forest lands, and overall environment, nature and wildlife too. I think bodies like Sanctuary Asia, BNHS and wild life activists and environmentalists must file a strong petition to oppose this project. The sooner this task is done the better. We just can’t afford to disturb wildlife and see destruction of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which is a prestigious landmark of our city.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)