The land is needed for development but people need trees to breathe. In the name of infrastructure, Mumbai has lost its big chunk of greenery. The Bombay High Court (HC) allowed the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to go for cutting 357 mangroves for the construction of Metro piers at Sewri and Bhakti Park station, as part of under-construction Metro Line-4 that connects Wadala in eastern suburbs to Kasarwadavli on Ghodbunder road in adjoining Thane district. The court has allowed MMRDA to cut 357 mangroves primarily after it observed that the development of Metro Line-4 has immense public importance in terms of public transport. The bench has also directed Metro authority to comply with the conditions imposed by authorities while granting permission. The conditions include compensatory afforestation over a hectare of degraded mangrove forest at Gorai, where the MMRDA will need to plant 4,444 mangroves saplings with developing a nursery cost and fully fund it for the duration of ten years. It also directed the MMRDA to construct a temporary road for carrying out the construction work. The orders are given, permissions are granted but there would hardly any follow-ups. Earlier, the court directives had prohibited development work in mangrove forests and a 50-meter buffer zone around mangroves until the court found the importance of the work keeping in mind the benefits it would provide to the people.
This was heartening for tree lovers and activists who have been campaigning against the rampant chopping down of trees and other green areas, as part of a massive infrastructure push currently ongoing in the city and its environs. But this is little consolation, considering much damage is still being caused in the name of development in the rest of the city. In the past four years, the state government has agreed to at least three major and several medium and small size projects which have a direct impact on the state’s ecology. Like the bullet train project, the ambitious Mumbai coastal road and the ongoing Metro 3 project are set to destroy mangroves, ax thousands of trees, and displace several originals habitats, especially from Adivasi communities.
Well! Metro cities are most insensitive towards the sea and its cleanliness. There is a lack of awareness among the public. And no adequate measures are being taken by the Governing bodies to combat this issue. Rapidly declining Wetlands and mangroves is the biggest challenge, with changes in salinity, ever-rising sea temperature and future changes in sea currents may severely affect marine life and its immunity to recover and revamp from extreme climatic events.
Whenever I visit the seaside of Mumbai, my heart cries out looking at the waste and pollution in water. Sea beaches are overloaded with plastic; clothe pieces, cosmetic and chemical industry waste. Earlier, major Industrial wastes used to be dumped into the Sea. Mumbai coastal area always had some of the other challenges. Somehow with imposed laws and vigilant citizens, sea cleaning became the priority and many NGOs tirelessly worked towards the same. Among all of these Mangroves is one of the least noticed yet most important ecosystems.
Wherever there is an intermediate landform, the diversity of species will be very high. Also, most of the species in such landforms would be unique to that ecosystem. In the case of mangroves, it supports a vast range of species from microorganisms to the Tigers like big animals. Mangroves are a special type of ecosystem with loosely packed sediments, constant influence of tides and very high salinity when compared to river waters. Species in this ecosystem have special adaptations to survive the challenging conditions.
These days’ rules prevent any disposal of plastics into the oceans. Marine pollution includes a range of threats including from land-based sources, oil spills, untreated sewage, heavy siltation, nutrient enrichment, invasive species, persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals from mine tailings and other sources, acidification, radioactive substances, marine litter, overfishing and destruction of coastal and marine habitats. In the recent past, Mumbai has witnessed many such incidences of oil spills that have damaged the sea creatures. In spite of having day-to-day challenges, hardly any preventive majors are taken to deal with such issues. Sedimentation has decreased in some areas due to reduced sea flow, as a result of terrestrial overuse for agricultural irrigation, while increasing in other regions as a result of coastal development and deforestation along rivers, watersheds and coastal areas, and clearing of mangroves.
There are thousands of projects and billions of funds poured into cleaning and spreading awareness about maritime pollution. Lots of strain is laid these days on preventing it. Actually, I strongly feel there is a need to create awareness about water and waste management onboard ships. Meanwhile, stringent policy and rules are must, and implementing them should be much more prompt. Most of the countries it is not easy for any ship or company to get away after causing any damage to the Sea environment. Right now, the major threats to the world’s costal lines include extreme climate events, unsound sightseeing practices, poison fishing for decorative fish, overexploitation by fisheries, sedimentation, harvesting, detonate fishing and pollution. Due to the increasing population, the coastal lines and sea pace is occupied by humans for livelihood. Which has resulted in an imbalance of the Coastal Environ system, Such as hampering Mangroves at coastal lines? The heavy rainfall that Mumbai receives every monsoon causes extreme havoc and with the destruction of mangroves, the flooding and waterlogging problems in the city is only going to worsen.
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