If you look at this picture closely you will see something remarkable. These are signs of new life. Tender new mangrove shoots growing where once a superhighway was planned by greedy builders to engulf and destroy dense mangrove forests in CRZ 1, which are protected by Indian law!
Tender mangrove shoots growing over debris dumped in Survey 344 at Dahisar West
A few years ago, if you read our previous blogs, you will read about the environmental catastrophe which was about to be unfolded on 450 acres of virgin mangrove forests in Survey 344 at Dahisar West. The New Link Road Residents Forum with help from the BEAG, CAT, then Suburban Collector Shri Nirmal Deshmukh, Justice Tahiliani and few upright officials in the Judiciary, Police and MCZMA managed to stop the dumping of debris in this pristine mangrove forest. We had to go upto the Supreme Court to get a favorable verdict.
Today the debris remain, as a mute testimony to human greed. Some of it was ordered to be removed following the Supreme Court ruling, but a significant portion still remains.
Yet, inspite of all the debris there is something special coming up!
Amidst the rubble and debris, we see new mangrove shoots bravely springing forth! God has designed these mangroves with a special quality, to thrive amidst the tidal waves, harsh salinity and humid heat of Mumbai’s coast!
These young mangrove shoots give us a message, that however impossible the task may seem, we must never give up the fight to save God’s creation from the hands of greedy men.
God bless you!
CITIZENS FOR THE CITY
Forum Members got a call from an alert resident today the 12th of May 2013, a lazy Sunday afternoon, that dumpers were seen entering CRZ behind Prithvi Palace on the Link Road. Immediately some of us reached the scene and saw two empty dumpers and one full one.
They had managed to dump atleast 8 mounds of debris in pristine mangroves right behind Prithvi Palace. There were also some orange flags planted on the dumps.
We informed MHB police station and the Senior Inspector came along with the Beat Marshals. They ordered the dumpers to be taken to the Police station, and recorded our statements.
We asked the Police to file complaints under the stringent Environment Protection Act and inform the Circle Inspector, Revenue department and the Tehsildar to make an FIR.
This is a shocking incident of gross violation of the law, especially since on the 1st of May we had caught them dumping on the very same area [again note that they wait for public holidays to make their move].
Such blatant disregard for the laws of the land and complaints by tax paying residents point to a deep malaise in the system, and calls for drastic cleansing of the whole land.
State wants to take over all vacant
After years of relentless efforts to protect mangroves, running from one department to another, High courts to Supreme courts, citizens of Mumbai who have been fighting to save mangroves can heave a sigh of relief, albeit small.
The Government, realizing the growing threats to mangroves in the city, and also realizing the importance of mangroves to the city’s ecosystem, climate and fisheries, has decided to hand over charge of protection of the city’s mangroves to a special cell.
A large patch of mangroves in the middle of a protected mangrove forest was cut by a notorious builder in Dahisar West
The Hindustan Times carried the article recently:
17 Apr 2013Hindustan Times (Mumbai) by Nikhil M Ghanekar email@example.com
Protected mangroves will be put in special cell’s care
MUMBAI: The forest department is now planning to transfer the responsibility of protecting mangroves in the state’s five coastal districts from its territorial division to the mangrove cell, which was set up by the state government nearly a year ago to protect and conserve the wetland vegetation.
The forest department has prepared a draft resolution for the move and sources say it will be finalised within a month.
This means 4,300 hectares of notified protected mangroves in the city will now be looked after by a specialised team. The new plan will also add much needed manpower to the understaffed mangrove cell, which will then have to protect 18,600 hectares of mangroves spread across Mumbai Island city, Mumbai suburban, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg from encroachments, destruction and pollution.
All of these duties currently come under the jurisdiction of the territorial division of forest department.
“The cell has reviewed the condition of mangroves across the four districts in the past year. It has technical expertise and experience to protect and conserve them with the help of the territorial division,” said a senior forest official, requesting anonymity.
According to the draft plan, an assistant conservator of forest will be the nodal officer responsible for protection and conservation in each of these five coastal districts. Besides this, the new setup will include three range forest officers, seven foresters and eighteen forest guards.
Until now, the mangrove cell has taken up a statewide afforestation plan through which 10 lakh new mangrove saplings will be planted. Charkop, Bhandup, Ghodbunder Road are already home to five lakh mangrove saplings.
Thane civic body takes action, starts razing illegal structures
THANE/MUMBAI: Waking up after 75 people lost their lives; the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) began demolition of illegal structures.
Additional municipal commissioner Shyam Sunder Patil said demolition of two adjoining buildings — a six-storey and a seven-storey building — had started. The municipal demolition squad first removed shanties and a godown in Lucky Compound.
The TMC pressed into service seven earthmovers, 12 dumpers and 160 personnel to carry out the work. The action is a classic case of authorities waking up to a grave problem after the death of citizens.
The incident in Shil-Phata exposed the vicious nexus behind hundreds of illegal structures built in Mumbra, Kausa and Shil areas of Thane.
Residents and activists said their repeated appeals to the TMC against illegal constructions on Lucky compound fell on deaf ears [or was it ears paid to be deaf?].
Santosh Bhoir, a local activist, had sent letters to the TMC at every level of the building construction since the day the work started.
“I had drafted the first letter on February 7 when the ground floor construction started. I had pointed out that low quality construction material was being used and a mishap was feared,” Bhoir said.
His second letter was on March 18 when two floors of the building were completed and the third letter was on March 30 when all the seven floors were completed.
Bhoir said no action was taken at any of these stages.
Mangal Patil, another activist, said he too had regularly corresponded with the TMC over hundreds of illegal constructions coming up in ward no 64 which also includes Shil area.
Sandeep Malvi, TMC’s PRO, said: “We are checking the records to see why the complaints went unattended or what action was taken after these complaints. However, time and again, we have been taking action against illegal constructions in this area.”
Chavan was not available for comment but minister of state for urban development Bhaskar Jadhav acknowledged more could have been done. “It is high time we take strict action against those involved in illegal constructions,” said Jadhav. He said that often illegal buildings are not demolished on humanitarian grounds so that people don’t lose shelter!
Sadly, this was among the reasons why 75 persons lost their lives in Shil-Phata. The builder had lured them to stay there for free or on low rent so that the building would not be demolished
A top Mantralaya official said action against illegal constructions in Mumbra is next to impossible as the officers get threatening calls from people protecting these structures, especially politicians.
7 Apr 2013
Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
99% cities have critical level of air pollution
CPCB data shows 99 per cent of cities have critical level of particulate pollution
NEW DATA SHOWS THAT SMALLER CITIES HAVE FOLLOWED THE FOOTPRINTS OF BIGGER CITIES WHEN IT COMES TO AIR POLLUTION
NEW DELHI: India’s high economic growth has given its cities a major health concern — rising air pollution. It is no more a concern for big cities alone. Smaller towns are getting affected by the malaise at a much faster pace, says the latest report of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The pollution regulator’s new data for 2010 shows that smaller cities such as Solapur in Maharashtra, Rajkot in Gujarat, Yamunanagar and Faridabad in Haryana, Ghaziabad and Meerut in UP, Paonta Sahib in Himachal, Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh and Nagaon in Assam have followed the footprints of bigger cities when it comes to air pollution.
Air pollution in Urban India is alarming. Seen here is a thick blanket of smoke arising from illegal structures on CRZ 1 Mangroves in Mumbai
This time, Delhi is not ranked most polluted city in any of the three parameters of pollutants — sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) — measured. Delhi, within two years, has been replaced by Gwalior in case of particulate matter and Howrah for NO2. In 2008, Chandni Chowk in Delhi topped the chart.
This doesn’t mean that air in the national capital is getting cleaner. The rise of particulate matter pollution in smaller cities is faster than that in Delhi.
Only two cities — Malapuram in Kerala and Madurai in Tamil Nadu — of the 190 cities monitored for air pollution across India could claim to have clean air in 2010, the report said. All other cities have either high or critical level of one of these pollutants, mostly particulate matter. In fact, 99% of 400 locations under scanner in 2010 reported high or critical levels of particulate matter. In 2008, the percentage was around 70.
Anumita Roy Chaudhary of the Centre for Science and Environment pointed out that in majority of the cities’ air pollution levels had increased at a rapid pace. “The cities, earlier with low levels, now have moderate levels and those with moderate have high or critical levels of particulate matter,” she told HT.
The trend in India’s air pollution level has been reported in studies with the recent Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) report that stated that air pollution was the fifth biggest reason for deaths in India.
Aaron Cohen, who headed the GBD expert group on air pollution, described the situation in India as “grave” and said air pollution causes about 20% of deaths due to lung cancer and 6% deaths due to high blood pressure in India.
The report shows Delhi’s satellite towns — Ghaziabad, Noida and Faridabad — were following in the Capital’s footsteps with rising levels of particulate matter pollution in the last four years. In fact, Ghaziabad has more particulate pollution than Delhi, the feat it achieved between 2008 and 2010. Noida and Faridabad are behind Delhi but are fast catching up.
7 Mar 2013
Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
Chetan Chauhan firstname.lastname@example.org