Is Mumbai's development body destroying the city's mangroves in order to build another business complex and rake in money?
A report in the Mumbai Mirror suggests that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority is preparing to remove streteches of mangroves along the coast in central and eastern Mumbai.
Quoting an unidentified MMRDA official, the report states that the area measuring around 50 hectares had been fenced off despite it being a no-development zone.
The officials said they were considering developing the area into a residential area given high real estate prices, selling it off and then using the funds generated from this to fund other infrastructure projects in the city.
“A huge part of the land is mangroves, and some area falls under the purview of the Coastal Regulation Zone notification. The rest has no specified use. We are making efforts to change the reservation to residential, which we can then sell," an official is quoted as saying.
While the MMRDA's official spokesperson has said they will investigate the report, if true, it is a gross violation of Mumbai's environmental laws that have been protecting the mangroves. And it would be even more ironic that the state which is supposed to implement such legislation is violating it.
Mangroves, which line most of the city's coast, have seen systemic destruction as construction activity in the city increased. There have been multiple cases of builders reclaiming mangrove land in order to carry out construction.
Playing an important role in fostering marine life and preventing land erosion from the coast by the sea, the mangroves play an important role in maintaining Mumbai's ecological balance.
The Bombay high court had in 2005 banned all hacking of mangroves and while declaring the areas a forest area said no non-forest activities could be carried out. It had reinforced its verdict in 2010 saying that even non-forest activities should not be carried out in the mangroves.