Nature hits back, NHAI road  on Uran mangroves cracks

Greens scream as Infra development destroys lives and livelihoods

NAVI MUMBAI, Jan 7 (Thre Connect): Proving that the nature strikes back, a stretch of road built by NHAI on the burial of mangroves in JNPT area at Uran has begun to develop cracks, environmentalists said.

In letter to Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, environmental groups NatConnect Foundation and Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan have complained against the irresponsible and arrogant manner in which the contractors have been working on the expansion of NH348.

In an utter disregard to mangroves, the contractors dumped truckloads of earth and debris on the mangroves along the highway and levelled them for the road expansion and land required for flyovers, said B N Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation.

The roads, built on marshy lands, have begun to develop cracks, Kumar pointed out sent photographic evidence to the minister. The mail has been marked to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray, apart from the High Court appointed Mangrove Committee and the Coastal Regulatory Zone Management Authority.

Stating that “We are not against any development as has been misconstrued by many project company managements,” Kumar asked: “what is the point in having development that causes this kind of environmental destruction?”

Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan, said the NHAI work, apparently to facilitate smooth traffic to JNPT, has been damaging the environment and this is not the first case. “Earlier, we have pointed out the destruction of over 5,000 mangroves at just one spot on along NH 348, near Punjab CFS. The mangroves are dead as the NHAI has taken more than six months to restore inter-tidal water flow to these mangroves,” Pawar said.

The people responsible for this wanton act have gone scot free. There is absolutely no accountability for this sort of bulldozing of the Nature, he lamented.

This kind of destruction of not safe not only for the villages and projects around the highway, but the highway itself with the kind of load the flyovers and the container traffic to and from the JNPT.

The environment groups pointed out that mangroves are the first line of defense for coastal areas, apart from protection shield from pollution as they act as carbon sinks, while wetlands are urban sponges that save us from floods.

The burial of wetlands at other places in Uran (for eg. Pagote, Bhendkhal, Funde, Navhghar and Khopte) has already led to unseasonal flooding of these villages and some paddy fields, said Dilip Koli of Paaramparik Machhmar Bachao Kruti Samiti.

These creations of the Nature serve as the source of livelihood for the local fishing community, Koli said the infrastructure projects threaten the lives and livelihoods at a time when the government is striving a lot to support the SMEs.