Citizens group launches `BoomCityDoomCity' campaign in Mumbai

 A group of concerned citizens, including environmentalists and communication professionals, have come together to warn the general public and the authorities against the dangers that unplanned construction and continued destruction of the environment posed to Mumbai.

Participating in a media seminar at the Mumbai Press Club on the eve of the Earth Day, the group has launched a social communication campaign called `#BoomCityDoomCity’, to project the stark reality of the plunder of the hills under the garb of quarrying and the large scale destruction of mangroves and wetlands in the name of development.
“Mumbai and its surroundings will face a terrible environmental disaster if the all round wanton destruction continues,” said Nandakumar Pawar, director of NGO Shri Ekavira Aai Pratishthan (SEAP), speaking at the seminar organised by Public Relations Council of India (PRCI), a body of communication professionals.
The Parsik Hill range in Navi Mumbai has already suffered an irreparable damage due to reckless quarrying with some hills facing the danger of extinction. The forest quarrying has been stopped and the department is on record complaining against massive violation of quarrying norms by unscrupulous operators in CIDCO area of Navi Mumbai, it was pointed out.
As much as 264.1 hectares has been mined against the permissible area of 138.07 hectares, the deputy conservator of forests, Thane, is reported to have said during a recent meeting of the district level environment assessment authority.
The Authority has ordered a joint study by forest department and CIDCO while according a conditional clearance to private companies for mining the hills in two hectares at Borivali village in Navi Mumbai even as a group of residents protested against quarrying of Parsik Hills in another area, Kharghar.
In yet another case, in Uran large-scale quarrying has been destroying the hills, apart from causing huge dust pollution, they pointed out.
“We are aware that stone chips are needed for infrastructure. We are not against development, but our concern is it should not happen at the cost environment damage,” said B N Kumar, chairman of governing council of PRCI, said.
Pawar said he recently drew the attention of CIDCO and forest officials to the fact that mangroves are being destroyed by dumping tones of debris. Large chunks of wetlands are also being reclaimed illegally in Uran area, he said.
Turning to the island city’s mangrove crisis, he said the authorities ought to have planted over 93,000 saplings over 21 acres in Manori. Sadly, just about 20 per cent of these barely survived. At Charkop, the situation is even worse. Of the 86,400 saplings hardly 5 per cent survived.
Pawar claimed that the authorities manage to get a reprieve by courts by claiming that they will replant to make up for the mangroves destroyed due infrastructure development. In reality, they mislead the judiciary as mangroves are supposed to grow naturally as they are not replanted.
“I am a fisherman by birth and I know the importance of mangroves,” he said and remarked: “Sadly these officers are either unaware of the basic facts or deliberately ignore environmental care.” Mangroves survive only in mudflaps and where there are ideal conditions to grow and not in rocky area. “This is common sense,” he remarked.
Referring to quarry permission with conditions such as maintenance of green belt, prevention of dust and particle pollution and conducting of lung functional tests of workers, he said: “it is anybody’s guess as to what extent these will be complied with.”
“You do not need expert committees to study the ground realities of these areas,” he said adding, “A visit to Charkop or Manori will show you the mangrove tragedy, a drive on Sion-Panvel highway between Turbhe and Belapur is good enough to see the plundering of the hills on the left side, behind the Thane- Belapur industrial belt and come to Uran and we will show you the destruction of the nature in broad daylight.”
Advocate Girish Raut of NGO 'Save Earth’ said thousands of mangroves have been destroyed for development in BKC and other parts of the city. Globally, several warnings have been issued against the dangers of global warming, which is irreversible. Yet the urban planners do not seem to realise the perils of destruction of the nature.
Himanshu Prem Joshi, under whose leadership a vast green belt has been developed on a garbage dump, said it is the duty of each and every citizen to be alert against the destruction of nature and the need to preserve it. “The Bhavana Nature and Adventure Centre project at Andheri is a shining example of preserving the nature,” he said.
The Girgaum Chowpatty floods and Mitthi River tragedy are still fresh in the people’s memory and we are yet to learn the lesson that we are not supposed to play with the nature, speakers pointed out.