Green groups speak of environmental manifesto in Mumbai

residents protesting against the destruction of Aarey forest which they call "Mumbai's Amazon", after the government approved cutting down 2,700 trees for constructing a metro train car shed, in Mumbai. (Photo by AFP)

Seeking to make the environment an election issue in Maharashtra, green groups have set out an agenda for all candidates, ranging from protection of Mumbai's green cover to setting up of a dedicated security force to protect the environment.

The move comes after more than 2,000 trees are being chopped in Aarey to pave way for the Metro car shed, while over 50,000 mangroves face the axe for the bullet train project.

Appealing to candidates in the Assembly elections, green groups – Samachar Foundation and Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan (SEAP) – reminded them of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent statement, that it was time to act and end mere talk about environment care. 

“In our mad race for development we have not only turned a blind eye to the environment but destroyed nature with no regrets and no plans to repair the loss,” said B N Kumar, chairman of Samachar Foundation.

“This is not limited to Mumbai, Pune or some cities but to the entire State of Maharashtra. On one hand, the government launches ambitious plans to plant crores of trees while on the other, it uproots many more under the guise of development. Some balance, this,” he lamented and underlined: “We are not against infrastructure or any development. But our question is: should it happen at the cost of the environment?”

The demand for a dedicated task force to tackle environment-related violations comes as the existing police force is unable to them.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has referred the issue to the Home Department and the green groups have asked candidates to take it up with all sincerity.

Listing the recent damage to the environment, Nandakumar Pawar, head of SEAP, said that as many as one lakh trees to be cut for Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Mahamarh. Hundreds of fishermen from Uran and other areas in Mumbai lost their source of income, as their fishing areas have been snatched away for projects by ONGC, the Navy and JNPT. The victims are yet to get compensated.

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