Mumbai, June 26 : Former Union minister and Mumbai Congress President Milind M. Deora on Wednesday warned that the government's plans to chop off mangroves for the Bullet Train project could be disastrous for Mumbai's survival.
In a statement, he said that first there were serious questions raised on the financial viability of the project and now the stat government says 54,000 mangroves will be razed for the Bullet Train route.
"We are all for development, but not indiscriminate development that puts Mumbai and Mumbaikars at grave risk. Coastal Road, salt pan lands and now the Bullet Train, in all three cases, the government seems to be perilously and recklessly permitting development at the cost of the environment," Deora said.
His reaction came in response to Maharashtra Transport Minister Diwakar Raote's statement in the legislature on Tuesday (June 25) that the state could soon lose 54,000 mangroves for the upcoming Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train project.
Accusing the government of "forgetting the lessons of the 2005 deluge", the Congress leader said it is a well-documented fact that mangroves help prevent flooding, especially in the low-lying areas, and given the impact of climate change and rising sea levels, Mumbai could get submerged in case of heavy rains like in July 2005.
He said over 500 people had been killed at that time, besides losses of Rs.28 billion and Mumbai Airport remaining submerged and shut for three days together.
"I urge the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to intervene immediately and find solutions so that natural buffers like mangroves and salt pan lands are protected, since development cannot be at the cost of another deluge-like situation for Mumbai," Deora said.
He cited a 2014 study, 'Mangroves For Coastal Defence' which says that the dense roots of mangrove trees help bind and build soils, and they are an essential natural defence to flooding apart from curbing pollution levels.
Speaking in the legislature, Raote had said that around 54,000 mangroves spread over 13.36 hectares would be hit, but the government plans to plant five mangroves for each one that is cut for the Bullet Train project.
He said that the proposed requirement of land for the project is 1,379 hectares, including 270.65 hectares in Maharashtra and the rest in Gujarat.