The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has reportedly said that cutting down the trees for coastal road project is ‘inevitable.’ In its defence, the civic body has argued that the project will decrease pollution, flooding and enhance greenery. The BMC was responding to 176 suggestions and objections raised by concerned citizens against the cutting of 140 trees for a 9-km-long coastal road project between Princess Street Flyover and Worli. About 600 trees will be affected by this project of which 140 will be cut and remaining will be transplanted.
The project was initially proposed to connect the suburbs of Mumbai and unclog the roads of the city. Around 90 hectares of land is to be reclaimed during the Phase -I of the coastal road between Princess Street Flyover and Worli. While 20 hectares is allotted for the project, the remaining 70 hectare is reserved for green cover, in which BMC plans to undertake the plantation.
BMC said that the cutting of a ‘few’ trees was necessary for the appropriate alignment and construction of the Coastal Road. The Shiv Sena-controlled body assured of reforestation in the ratio of 1:3 according to government guidelines and the creation of green areas around the project. BMC said that common people will be benefitted in several ways such as a reduction in pollution, enhancement of green cover, and saving time. The civic body has estimated that about 600 trees will be affected by the project which aims to link the Marine Drive with the southern end of Bandra-Worli Sea Link. While 140 trees will be chopped, around 460 trees are to be transplanted.
Skeptics question the BMC
According to citizen environmentalist, Zoru Bhathena said that it is incomprehensible as to why 600 trees are affected for a road built on reclaimed land. “We could understand five-10 trees being cut or transplanted, but 600 is a huge number. Also, BMC claims Coastal Road will result in the reduction of flooding conditions, however, it looks like BMC follows their made-up theories on physics, geography, history and environmental studies. This is just a classic example of all that is wrong with BMC,” the activist alleged.
Marine conservationist Pradip Patade claimed that the flooding will not reduce because of the coastal road construction. He said that he saw pictures wherein the turbulent water is hitting the construction area. This is a general logic because the more you fill in the sea, the more will come out,” he emphasised. However chief engineer of the project Vijay Nighot reiterated that the BMC has not reached the stage where it can consider deforestation or reforestation. He said that a green signal has not yet been received from the BMC’s tree authority. “Also, when we say flooding will reduce, it is because we are going to build a sea-wall, and due to this comparatively flooding will reduce. We have not claimed that there will not be any flooding,” he clarified.
U- turn of Shiv Sena
The ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, which often advocates for eco-conservation by cancelling the metro project at Aarey on ‘concerns’ that trees are being cut, earlier took a U-turn by deciding to axe more than 300 trees for the construction of a metro line the elevated Metro-2A corridor between Dahisar and DN Nagar. Shiv Sena, especially under the leadership of Aaditya Thackeray, had been extremely vocal on the issues of environmental conversation, as the young Sena prince had opposed the BJP government’s decision of felling of trees at Aarey Milk colony to construct a Metro shed.