Kerala flood loud wake-up call for Mumbai region, activists tell Govt

Save Hills, Mangroves, Forests, Wetlands or face disasters

MUMBAI: Drawing similarities in destruction of nature between Kerala and Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), environment activists have sounded a ‘loud wake-up call’.

In a joint SOS to Union Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, environment docused website and NGO Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP) pointed out that  there have been reports that the Kerala disaster is due to destruction of hills by reckless quarrying and even forests.

“We have been relentlessly pointing out the impending disasters in MMR due to the all-round gross neglect of environment protection. If we do not learn lessons and take appropriate stems now, it will be too late tomorrow,” said social communication activist B N Kumar, who also edits The Environment Connect website.

The email to the Minister was also marked to the Prime Minister, Maharashtra Chief Minister, Konkan Divison and NMMC Commissioners.

Stressing that the campaign is “not against infrastructure development” Kumar said: “it must not come at the cost of the environment. Else, will have dangerous consequences and the very development will be wiped out.”

The irreparable damage done to Parsik Hills under the garb of quarrying can lead to landslides and mud-floods sweeping away many slum colonies in their flow

All stake holders, including Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, The Pollution Control Board, the Forest Department have vehemently opposed further quarrying. The NGT has ruled against quarrying unless there is an EC. But an EC was given to a quarry owner in MIDC area with several conditions which nobody adheres to ever! Some 74 applications for renewal of quarry license are pending with the DEIAA.

“We hope that a suggestion by a clutch of six environment-focused NGOs to accord heritage status to Parsik Hills to protect them from further damage will be followed through to its logical end as the Chief Minister asked the Department of Culture and Tourism to look into it” Kumar, who launched #SaveParikHill campaign, said.

The plea to Dr Harsh Vardhan pointed out that the activists have launched an online campaign- #IamMangroveIamDying – to focus on wanton destruction of mangroves all over MMR either by the debris mafia or contractors of infrastructure projects with the connivance of Government agencies. The Forest officials have already confirmed the killing of as many as 4,500 mangroves in 4.5 hectares in Uran area for construction of JNPT terminal, SEAP head Nandakumar Pawar said.

Vashi, the first township of Navi Mumbai, has been built below the sea level and the destruction of mangroves will wipe out the urban settlement when nature

Pawar said “Forest cover on Parsik Hills and in Aaray areas are being destroyed and limited greenery is rapidly disappearing. Hundreds of trees are being hacked for metro rail project. Numerous appeals from concerned citizens have fallen on deaf ears. When will we wake up? After another disaster in Mumbai and surroundings?

“The Chief Minister’s Green Campaign to plant 16 crore saplings is welcome. But these saplings will take years to grow. This does not give us license to eliminate existing trees, which have grown over so many years,” he said.

There are Supreme Court orders against destruction of wetlands and the need to preserve them to maintain bio-diversity is well known. Yet, all the wetlands in Uran area are being ravaged with reclamation under the guise of infrastructure. This is yet another invitation to disaster, Pawar said.

“Like we human beings, every creation of the nature has its right to live on this planet – be it the plants, birds, animals, aqua culture and fish. The latest lesson from Kerala disaster is loud and clear: Play with the nature, the nature strikes back,” Kumar said.

MMR’s  boom will soon be its doom, if we do not take corrective steps on a war footing, now, the mail added