Save Panje - The last remaining wetland in Mumbai

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Dear Mr Ambani,

It is with enormous trust and honest expectations that we write to you, in respect of a subject that we believe is close to your heart.

Your amazing work on the developmental front, and the tremendous achievements of Reliance, comprise one of the greatest success stories of India’s growth. This is something that arguably has no parallel in our recent history.

Sir, we are aware of your and your family’s passionate interest in wildlife and the natural world, and of your travels across the world to see some of the greatest wildlife spectacles and wilderness sites. We write now with a fervent appeal for your look into an issue of a wildlife spectacle, a natural heritage right in Mumbai’s backyard, and what promises to be one of the most engaging developments.

The world over, progressive corporates and their deeply concerned management teams are trying their best to dovetail corporate needs with ever more urgent environmental considerations. There simply isn’t any alternative to this option.

This letter, now, concerns protecting an incredibly bird-rich site – the Panje wetlands, in the Uran area - for which, your attention to the same could lead to a path-breaking and trailblazing example for creating a model that others may follow, to our betterment.

The Navi Mumbai SEZ, of which your group of companies are among the key promoters, is one of the biggest projects of its kind anywhere. As much as the developmental agenda of Mumbai, the economic powerhouse of the nation, can never be undermined nor ignored, this enormous project, along with the upcoming Navi Mumbai airport, has taken and is continuing to inflict a high toll upon some of the finest wetland habitats in this part of the country. We request your kind support in ensuring we set an example for conservation of the very critical, bird-rich pocket of this project site, encompassing an area of approximately 500 acres. Conserving this as part of the Navi Mumbai SEZ would be a classical example to showcase the fruits of your leadership in such pioneering interventions.

The richness in this sprawl of wetlands of Navi Mumbai can be gauged from the fact that nearly 250 species of birds have been observed here. That is almost one-fifth the bird wealth of the entire Indian region, and well over half the species found in the Mumbai region. Some of the most amazing bird congregations can be observed here, as well as regular sightings of a flurry of threatened, endangered and rare birds. Attached are some of the spectacular images of birds and bird congregations at this site that help illustrate this phenomenal situation.

As you are aware, CIDCO, the state-appointed supervisor of public interest in this project, continues to deny this potential, nay, even the existence, of any wetlands here. It appears this uncertain and conservative situation may only be transformed by the exhibition of dynamic leadership from private enterprise, such as yours. Your support in the conservation of this unique site right in your backyard, so to say, will be an unparalleled example in matching a great developmental enterprise with the values of protecting an extraordinary site for nature.

No better example of Reliance Industries’ commitment towards nature conservation can be advocated than in saving the wetlands of Panje.

We need hardly point out, of course, that given the present terms of engagement between the State and our business sector, in terms of CSR compatibility too, saving a part of the Navi Mumbai SEZ site for its natural grandeur will conform to beneficial parameters listed in Schedule VII of the Companies CSR Rules, 2014.

Be it in terms of promoting education, ensuring environmental sustainability, ecological balance and protection of natural resources and natural heritage, this is an excellent opportunity in the immediate urban surrounds for the Reliance Group to help integrate its phenomenal developmental platform with the urgent needs of nature conservation.

It appears straightforward to some of us, in fact, that in helping to protect such an amazing site for our people, especially the young who represent the future of our beautiful country, not just them, but across all ages and social spectra, from the students of Dhirubhai Ambani school to every other institution, will provide a living platform for their developing intelligence and community, on which and in which all can participate, to celebrate and to learn. We trust this is a vision that strikes a chord in you, and look forward to your enthusiastic support.

Immediately, your convening an interaction, sparing a few minutes of your valuable time, where we can set in motion a meaningful approach to achieving this vision, will be the first, and a very major, step on a trail-blazing path.

We remain, sincerely,

Yours

(Signatories)



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