Sahyadri Rights Forum, an environmental group on Saturday (September 18) lodged a complaint with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for the cycle and jogging track currently under construction on the ecologically delicate Powai Lake in Mumbai. The forum received a complaint from an IIT-B student and immediately wrote a letter to the NGT chairman.
“We received a complaint from #IITB student about deliberate exploitation of environment at Powai Lake for pet project of #adityathackeray. We lodged complaint wit #NGT chairman to immediately stay d project till further orders n investigation. @Dev_Fadnavis @byadavbjp @MPLodha”
We received a complaint from #IITB student about deliberate exploitation of environment at Powai Lake for pet project of #adityathackeray. We lodged complaint wit #NGT chairman to immediately stay d project till further orders n investigation.@Dev_Fadnavis @byadavbjp @MPLodha pic.twitter.com/Qu4o63rX8W
— Sahyadri Rights Forum (@ForumSahyadri) September 18, 2021
In its email to the NGT, the forum wrote, “The said construction is carried out by reclaiming Powai Lake with mesh wired stones and cutting thousands of trees around it. Such activity would not just engender tree creatures that have habituated there but reclaiming of water in the lake will also engender the marine life and create a total ecological imbalance and amounts to playing with nature.”
Crocodiles and other reptiles will be affected
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation under Shiv Sena and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray have been the brain behind the disaster project that threatens the flora and fauna of the wetland.
According to a midday report, Omkar Mahadeo, a researcher at IIT-Bombay has alleged that the ongoing work has damaged the water body and trees have been killed. The lake has a healthy population of Indian Marsh Crocodiles, and if the work continues, it might disturb reptiles and other aquatic species, and also birds.
Member of the high court-appointed Wetlands Grievance Redressal Committee and director of Vanashakti D Stalin. He visited the lake area said that he will move to court if the authorities still decide to play with the ecology and build the cycling track.
“The lake is being reclaimed and there is an ongoing construction of a road inside the lake’s boundary. It is also sad to see that several trees have been cut along the bank. All this will also be detrimental for the crocodiles who come to the shore to bask and also lay their eggs in the muddy areas. If a 10 km long cycling track comes up here, the crocodiles will go to IIT areas which will lead to human-animal conflict,’’ said Stalin.
— ziasud (@zeeesz) September 19, 2021
BMC continues the project blatantly disrespecting the Forest department's orders and citizens requests.
Dumping continues in the fragile habitat of Powai Lake
— Muse Foundation (@FoundationMuse) September 18, 2021
More than 200 trees to be cut
One of the other NGOs protesting against the cycle track remarked, “The project involves cutting or trimming of more than 200 trees. We have checked the numbering. Mumbai has just 1 tree for 5 people as per BMC and the ideal ratio is 7 trees for 1 person as per the Indian Institute of Science. It’s a natural habitat for the highly protected species like crocodiles, leopards as well as other immensely valuable wildlife of Mumbai,”
Not only, the BMC is constructing an ill-planned cycling and jogging track, it is killing the surroundings of the lake as well. Recently, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) was forced to write a letter to the S ward of BMC asking it to stop spraying any chemicals, such as glyphosate (a herbicide) in the Powai lake as it is likely to disturb or affect the crocodiles and other marine animals that survive inside the landmark waterbody.
D Stalin, the complainant, told TOI, “I am pleased that MPCB has taken corrective measures and directed the municipal body to stop spraying chemicals into Powai lake. Several Indian marsh crocodiles, which are protected species that cohabit in the lake, along with fish and other marine creatures can be severely affected by the use of glyphosate to eradicate water hyacinths.”
Shiv Sena and its duplicity — the Aarey metro shed project
Shiv Sena and the Thackeray clan had earned political points through their bogus opposition against the Aarey Metro shed project. Their opposition to the project continued even when the Supreme Court had given a green light to the proposed felling of 2,700 trees as the benefits of the project far outweighed the cost of cutting down the trees.
Despite the SC order, there were widespread protests and misinformation campaigns by Shiv Sena and so-called environmentalists who collectively joined hands to stonewall the country’s development as unsuspecting commoners unknowingly fell prey to their nefarious agenda.
Publicity-hungry Bollywood stars didn’t want to be left behind either and several of them joined the protests and took to social media to preach. Ironically, the same Bollywood celebrities have no qualms when shooting in Film City which is built inside the heart of Aarey, thus exposing the hypocrisy of the Aarey protestors. Meanwhile, not a single one of them has protested against the Powai Lake project that is actually intended to destroy the environment without returning any tangible benefits.
Shiv Sena ever since severing ties with the BJP by ditching it at the last moment and usurping the power with two opportunist parties in Congress and NCP has compromised with its moral ideologies. The party claims to stand for environmental rights but away from the media glare, it continues to invest in petty projects, which unlike Aarey bring no benefit to the common Mumbaikars.