SOS to Prez, PM to save 54000 mangroves threatened by Bullet Train

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This is an open letter to all of you.

The news that as many as 54,000 mangroves will be hacked for the ambitious Bullet Train project has come to us as a big shock.

Coming as it does ahead of the World Forestry Day being celebrated on March 21, the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) clearance to run the bullet train mowing down mangroves across 13.36 hectares is a big blow to the City’s environment.

The shocker also disheartens us environment lovers as there has been no action on the massive destruction of mangroves in Uran area by JNPT and NHAI.

The Bombay High Court has very recently ordered the protection of mangroves and wetlands saying:  “The destruction of mangroves offends the fundamental rights of the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In view of the provisions of Articles 21, 47, 48A and 51A(g) of the Constitution of India, it is a mandatory duty of the State and its agencies and instrumentalities to protect and preserve mangroves.”

While the Bullet Train could be envisaged as a public interest project, the larger interest is in protecting the City’s environment.

The proposal to raze 54000 mangroves has now been sent to the Ministry of Forests and Environment and we request you to ensure that the MoEF does not clear the destruction.

We are not at all against infrastructure development but our question is: should it come with environmental destruction?

Bullet Train comes with a double whammy. The environment ministry has already given green signal for the project to run under flamingo and leopard zones in Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

We fail to understand how a ministry which supposed to ensure environment protection is allowing environment destruction.

Paradoxically, the government of India and various states will observe the World Forestry Day with the theme being Forests and Education.

And we have this ill-conceived, strange, reprehensible, unpardonable way of educating the people about forests by destroying greenery that cannot be re-created.

The official record f replanting mangroves has been abysmal. For instance, none of the mangroves planted by the authorities in Charkop area survived.

The government ought to know that Mangroves do not grow anywhere and everywhere. They grow only tidal areas of the seas.

We have experienced marooning of Chowpatty, Mithi River floods in Mumbai and massive devastation in Kerala very recently.

Yet, we do not learn any lessons from the nature’s warnings.

Can the project proponents not find an environment friendly, safer route for the bullet train instead of working towards suicidal way of destroying mangroves?

To conclude, we quote what BBC Environment Correspondent wrote: Scientists have long warned that climate change will bring extreme rainfall and powerful sea-storms that could flood cities. They say lakes, marshlands and river-floodplains absorb excess rainfall, while salt marshes and mangroves work as a buffer against storm surges.

We request you all to ensure that Mumbai mangroves are not destroyed for any project and the City is saved from future disasters.

Yours sincerely

B N Kumar – Director, The Nature Connect

Nandakumar Pawar – Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan