Bullet Train Mows Down Nature

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#BulletTrainMowsDownNature

We are shocked, surprised, dismayed and aghast on seeing media reports saying that the Bullet Train (pic: courtesy NHSRCL) project will cut through the precious nature- the flamingo haven and Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

While we are not at all against the ambitious infrastructure projects being launched by the government and private sector, our moot question is: should they come at the cost of the environment?

Of late, we have been observing a dangerous rising trend of various project proponents playing with the nature.

The Mumbai Metro Project has been causing havoc to the Aarey Forest, the NMSEZ, JNPT SEZ and NHAI, CIDCO projects have ruined mangroves and wetlands in Uran and the Sion-Panvel Highway expansion has eaten into the mangroves along side. JNPT has even penalized by the High Court-appointed State Mangrove Monitoring Committee for killing mangroves.

The Navi Mumbai International Airport is being built throwing all environment considerations to the winds by flattening the hills, diverting rovers and destroying mangroves. The Parsik Hills in Navi Mumbai have been plundered beyond limits in the name of quarrying for stone chips for infra project.

Now comes yet another highly disturbing report that a committee chaired by none other than the Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, has granted wildlife clearance to the Bullet Train project to pass through the flamingo haven and forest lands of Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

We sincerely hope that this report is wrong.

But in the absence of any clarification or denial from the government, we take it for granted that the report is factually correct.

To recap, the report by The Hindu says:

“The proposal involves diversion of 3.2756 ha of forestland from the Thane Creek Flamingo Wildlife Sanctuary and 97.5189 ha of land close to the boundary of the forest’s protected area.

“The TCF in Thane, Mumbai, came into being August 2015 and the 1,690-hectare bird haven — 896 hectares of mangrove forests and 794 hectares of a water-body — is on the western bank of the creek, between the Airoli and the Vashi bridges connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.

“Apart from the creek, the proposal also involves diverting 32.75 ha of forestland and 77.30 ha of non-forestland from Sanjay Gandhi National Park and from 0.6902 ha of forestland and 4.7567 ha of non-forest land from Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary.”

Our generation has inherited good environment and we are hell bent on destroying it with short-sighted approach. The future will not forgive us if we continue to ruin the nature.

Have we forgotten the Chowpatty and Mitthi River floods? And The recent ravaging floods in Kerala due to the erratic development by cutting hills and forests?

We request your immediate intervention in this matter and protect the nature. Else, the infrastructure boom will spell doom for Mumbai.

The governments may not care for the nature despite all tall claims of connecting the people with the nature. But as concerned citizens, we should not and will not tolerate this apathy and neglect.

B N Kumar – Director, The NatureConnect.Com.

Nandakumar Pawar – Head, Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan