Find Sustainable Solutions, Don’t Cut Mangroves: Vasai Residents

Acres of mangroves, open spaces, salt pan lands- that’s the Vasai I grew up in. But over the last few years, everything has been changing. Builders have been killing the mangroves in and around Vasai and constructing on that land. Mangroves have been cleared from over 100 acres of land already to make way for buildings.

While certain developers are occupying open spaces illegally, now the MMRDA in their recent development draft plan 2016-2036, have come up with proposals that will reduce Vasai’s green cover considerably. According to the plan, MMRDA is permitting construction of 15 metre high buildings in most of the green zones and 24 metre high buildings in ‘gaothan’ settlements. They have even opened up 1560 acres of land that was formerly used a salt pans.

An illegal prawn farming unit in Vasai.

1560 acres of land, which was formerly placed in the ‘no development’ zone has been allotted for a growth centre. They are planning a residential complex, sports complex, educational centre and commercial units on this land that floods every monsoon. If layers of concrete are laid out on this land, the water can no longer accumulate here and instead, this will flood the nearby towns and villages in Vasai. We are not against development, but we are only in favour of sustainable development.

Mangroves help stop deluge and now that’s not happening. Water from the sea is entering land further each day. During monsoon last year, our village was submerged under water for 5-6 days. At least 6 people died after drowning and if these mangroves are not saved now then this will happen every year. Mumbai suffered the same way when Mithi river was filled up to make way for BKC.

Mumbai’s air is polluted but despite staying near Mumbai, in Vasai we have managed to stay in a non-polluted zone because there is no permission to develop the green zone. If the natural environment here is destroyed, we can’t live here.

Once we read the development draft plan, we wrote to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and asked him to develop the city area and not the village areas. At least 40,000 objections have been sent to the MMRDA from Vasai and Virar so far. In total, over 62,000 objections have been submitted from across Mumbai Metropolitan Region to the MMRDA. While initially, they were being heard, that has stopped now. We have appealed to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as well, but there’s been no response from him.

Camera & Producer: Ankita Sinha

Editor: Veeru Mohan

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