As Mumbai battles city-wide flooding brought on by record levels of rain, Congress leader Milind Deora today took aim at the Maharashtra government over its plans to cut down mangrove trees to create a high-speed rail corridor.
"Mangroves protect Mumbai from storms, winds, waves & floods. Yet, 54,000 will be razed for the bullet train. Will the train shift Mumbaikars to Ahmedabad when our city drowns?" Milind Deora demanded of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, whom he tagged in his Twitter post.
Mangrove forests help stabilise and protect coastlines from tsunamis and floods. In areas where mangrove forests are cut down, damage from hurricanes and typhoons is far more severe.
A mangrove forest spread over 13.36 hectares will be affected because of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail corridor, commonly called the bullet train project, transport minister Diwakar Raote said on Monday.
The minister also said that nearly 200 acres of land would be acquired in Palghar district; large parts of this district were left flooded after receiving nearly 300 mm of rainfall on Monday.
Mr Deora was also less than impressed with the state's proposal to plant five trees for every mangrove that is cut.
"I urge @CMOMaharashtra to urgently intervene. Planting trees across Maharashtra won't save Mumbai," he tweeted.
Mangroves protect Mumbai from storms, winds, waves & floods. Yet, 54,000 will be razed for the bullet train.— Milind Deora (@milinddeora) July 2, 2019
Will the train shift Mumbaikars to Ahmedabad when our city drowns?
I urge @CMOMaharashtra to urgently intervene. Planting trees across Maharashtra won't save Mumbai https://t.co/M9mMGB5UiE
The bullet train project will also impact mangrove forests near Thane station. However, officials say they have reworked the design, on orders from the Environment Ministry, of the station to reduce the number of affected mangroves.
"Passenger areas like the parking area and passenger-handling area have now been moved out of the mangrove region. The location is the same but earlier 12 hectares were getting affected but now only three will get affected," MD Achal Khare, National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHRSCL) chief, said.
Mumbai's streets flood regularly during the monsoon, which runs from June until September or October. Almost every monsoon, the city struggles to cope with the chaos caused by the rain.
Early this morning, 18 people were killed and many injured after a wall crashed in Malad East. A 10-year-old girl is trapped under debris.In Thane's Kalyan, three, including a three-year-old boy, were killed after the wall of a school crashed on two houses.
Late last night, a SpiceJet plane from Jaipur overshot the runway while landing amid heavy rain. No one was injured but the plane is still stuck on the runway. Suburban and long-distance trains have either been cancelled or are running late after tracks were flooded.
Amid predictions of heavy rain today, Maharashtra has declared a public holiday in Mumbai and adjoining Thane, with Mr Fadnavis urging people to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary.
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