Less than a fortnight after he appealed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to refrain from any development activities on the salt pan lands, Mumbai Congress president Milind Deora has raised serious concerns over the indiscriminate development plans of the government in lieu of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train.
Deora said, "First it was serious questions raised over the financial viability of the bullet train. Now the state government says 54,000 mangroves will be razed for it. It seems that we have forgotten the lessons of the 2005 deluge.”
He said that this is extremely unfortunate.
“We are all for development but not indiscriminate development that puts the city of Mumbai and Mumbaikars at grave risk. The 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 and this can be very dangerous. I am urging the chief minister to immediately intervene and find solutions so that natural buffers like mangroves and salt pan lands are protected. I repeat, we are for development but not at the cost of another deluge-like situation for the city,” he said.
Deora's reaction comes on the back of a statement by the state transport minister Diwakar Raote who told the Legislative Council that Maharashtra will soon lose 54,000 mangroves to the bullet train project.
“It is a well-documented fact that mangroves help prevent flooding, especially in low-lying areas. Given the impact of climate change and rising sea levels, it will be no surprise if Mumbai gets submerged in case of heavy rains like 2005,” Deora, a former MP and an ex-minister, said.
The Mumbai Congress president said that the government seems to have forgotten the lessons of the 2005 deluge when close to 500 people died due to heavy flooding, the city incurred losses of 28 billion rupees and the Mumbai airport was submerged for three consecutive days.
A 2014 study titled Mangroves for Coastal Defence says that the dense roots of mangrove trees help bind and build soils and are an essential, natural defence to flooding apart from keeping pollution levels down.