Saving the mangroves being destroyed due to many projects!!

Saving the mangroves being destroyed due to many projects!!

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Himanshu Bhadani started this petition to Earth5R and

Bare trees with slender branches line a half-built highway overpass in eastern Mumbai. These are mangroves, trees or shrubs found in tropical swampy marshland with roots that grow above the ground. But construction has blocked their lifeblood — salt water. Their aerial roots poke through dry, caked mud instead of brackish water.

Environmentalist B.N. Kumar points to a small channel under the highway where seawater once entered the mangrove patch. It's now littered with rocks and construction debris.

"All the mangroves, about 5,000 of them, have dried up. They can only be used as firewood now," Kumar says. "It's very sad to see these mangroves dying like this."

Thousands of acres of velvety green mangroves line the border between the Arabian sea and the city of Mumbai in western India. They act as natural buffers against coastal erosion and flooding, and they store up to four timesas much carbon as other forests. With sea level rise inevitable, Mumbai's mangroves are more important now than ever. A new report by climate change researchers predicts much of Mumbai, which is India's financial capital, will be underwater by 2050 if global carbon emissions aren't reduced. The city, originally a cluster of seven islands, is especially vulnerable. Many parts of it have been built by reclaiming land from the sea.

"At a time when we require more and more mangroves, we are destroying, unfortunately, more and more mangroves," Kumar says.

Studies show that Mumbai lost nearly 40 percent of its mangroves between 1991 and 2001 — about 9,000 acres. And rapid urbanization continues to threaten them.

A short car ride from the dried mangroves along the highway, a municipal garbage truck dumps trash on the edge of a mangrove patch. Sludge and plastic waste cover the roots of the mangroves, slowly choking them. In another area nearby, hundreds of acres of mangroves are being cut for the construction of the Navi Mumbai international airport.

One of India's most glamorous infrastructure projects, the country's first bullet train — which will run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, in the western Indian state of Gujarat — is estimated to destroy at least 32,000 mangroves.

Journalist-turned-activist Kumar, who runs a blog called The Nature Connect, has raised concerns about mangrove destruction with authorities, including the Japanese government agency that is helping build the bullet train. Kumar and other activists organized an exhibition in Mumbai earlier this year displaying large posters about the environmental impacts of such projects.

Kumar says environmentalists are often branded as anti-development, especially when they oppose projects like the bullet train, which, for many Indians, is a source of pride.

"We are not against any development," Kumar says. "Our question is, does it need to happen at the cost of the environment?"

People need to understand that they cannot survive without nature, says Debi Goenka, executive trustee of the Mumbai-based nonprofit Conservation Action Trust. "Just chasing the mirage of GDP growth is not development," he adds.

Authorities say they will plant five mangroves for each one that is cut for the bullet train. But activists say promises about replanting are a sham.

"There is actually no land [within the city] to replant mangroves, no suitable habitat available," says Goenka. On the rare occasion that mangrove restoration does happen, most of the saplings don't survive, Goenka adds.

With these mangroves gone, Mumbai will be left without a vital line of defense when natural disasters strike. And that has happened before.

In 2005, when the city experienced unprecedented monsoon rainfall leading to catastrophic flooding, one of the worst affected areas was a commercial hub in central Mumbai, full of shopping malls and skyscrapers. It's been constructed by reclaiming low-lying areas on the banks of the Mithi River, previously home to a sprawling mangrove forest that acted as a natural stormwater drain.

While floods were ravaging most of Mumbai, Nandakumar Pawar recalls being surprised that his fishing village in a northeastern suburb of Mumbai escaped the worst. A more than 2,000-acre stretch of mangroves nearby acted as a sponge to hold water and didn't allow it to flood his village, he says.

"That was a truly eye-opening incident for me and my community," Pawar says

From Sources**

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