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Freeze growth, say environmental groups

Special Correspondent

"Don't play the fool with nature because nature will never forgive you; something basically wrong"


  • Why should water logging continue for two or three days?
  • The problem was reclamation around the mouth of Mithi river
  • River has been diverted
  • Destruction of mangroves added to crisis

    MUMBAI: Environmental groups here have called upon Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to put a freeze on the growth of Mumbai immediately until a proper study of the carrying capacity of the city is done.

    This is part of the demands they have made in the wake of the problems thrown up by last week's rain disaster.

    Study needed

    Speaking on the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) premises, B.G. Deshmukh, former Union Cabinet Secretary, who is also the president of the BNHS, said the environmental aspects of the flooding on July 26 needed to be studied.

    "We need to tell the government: don't [play the] fool with nature because nature will never forgive you or forget. If the Government does not heed this, we will face the same crisis again."

    Mr. Deshmukh said Mumbai was used to heavy rain and there was no reason why water logging should continue for two or three days. "Something is basically wrong. It is not acceptable that because the rainfall was heavy nothing could be done."

    The problem was reclamation of the area around the mouth of the Mithi river, said Debi Goenka of the Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG).

    The Maharashtra Government as well as the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests did not heed the objections raised by environmentalists.

    As a result, the mouth of the river narrowed at the Mahim Bay, reducing its capacity to handle the inflow and outflow of water. This was what led to extensive flooding on July 26.

    Debris dumped

    Mr. Goenka said the river had been diverted at one point, the mangroves alongside reclaimed and construction debris dumped near it. And indiscriminate quarrying around the lake, which feeds the river, resulted in one-third of it getting silted up.

    The steady destruction of over 1,000 acres of mangroves in the past three or four years also contributed to the current crisis. "Wetlands act as sponges but their absorption capacity has been reduced," he said.

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