Thursday, February 02, 2023
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Save Bullet Train from Bullet Train massacre

NatConnect Foundation

Hon’ble Rail Mantri ji,

Greetings from environment focused groups – The Nature Connect and Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP).

We have been campaigning to save mangroves and wetlands of Mumbai Metropolitan region (MMR).

It is in this context that we were shocked to learn from your ministry’s statement in Rajya Sabha that a whopping 54,000 mangroves will be massacred for paving the way for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train.

We were even  more shocked when your junior colleague Shri Babulal Supriyo said in the same House that: “Railway projects are not covered within the ambit of Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, hence do not require prior environment clearance”

Sir, we have nothing against any infrastructure development, but our point is should it happen at the cost environment.

As a Mumbaikar, you are fully aware of the importance mangroves which protect the city from tidal attacks and erosion. Chopping them will obviously allow the sea water to gush into the sea.

The 54,000 mangroves to be lost is not a small figure. They are equivalent to the size of five and a half Azad Maidans.

We have already has several instances of floods and keep experiencing it repeatedly. We haven’t learnt any lessons from Chowpatty, Mitthi floods and even the recent inundation.

Only a couple of days ago, we saw how a thousand passengers were stranded on the Mahalaxmi Express for 17 hours in as the tracks were under flood waters.

To mention yet another case in point, the eco-sensitive Uran is reeling under massive destruction of wetlands and mangroves due to Navi Mumbai and JNPT SEZ projects. The High Court appointed Mangrove Committee has already taken a serious note of this as the environmental destruction is already causing floods. Five villages had floods during Holi Festival. CBD Belapur roads were drowned under high tide water due to landfill and destruction of mangroves for Navi Mumbai International Airport.

When all this is happening around us, we as common citizens, cannot be silent spectators. It is just not about the future generation that will be impacted; we are already seeing the impact.

Sir, the compensatory tree plantation has turned out to be a big hoax and a joke in Mumbai. Please note that mangroves cannot be replanted anywhere and everywhere. They need marshy land and tidal water. We have the classic cases of the replanted sea plants not surviving at Charkop and Bhandup.

Hence, with folded hands we appeal to your conscience, to ask NHSRC to find an alternative route to Bullet Train and save our ecology.

There have been several other concerned citizens and organisations who called for saving the mangroves that are to be killed for the Bullet Train.

Unlike what your colleague Babulal Supriyo said, the Railways too should be accountable to the Environment Act as much as any other organisation or industry.

Play with the nature and the nature strikes back. Even the so-called infrastructure projects will not escape wrath.

Looking forward to your positive response.

Thanks and regards

B N Kumar – Director, The Nature Connect

Nandakumar Pawar – Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP).