Several structures that encroach upon the green patches in Mumbai are under construction in the city, and a new one seems to spring up every day. We are playing a tug-of-war with nature to get more space to occupy the ever-increasing population of the economic capital. A game which will make us the real winners only if we lose.
However, even as this is going on, there are a few patches that are breathing back life into the city. These green patches or ‘lungs of the city’ have been revived due to efforts of the government and citizens to restore mangroves, clean beaches and forest patches.
Here is a look at five such oxygen masks in Aamchi Mumbai:
1. Tere mere “Beach” mein:
Mumbai, for some, is synonymous with beaches and chowpatis. The number of people that frequent Versova and Dadar beach every day is a clear sign of how much Mumbaikars love beaches.
This frequency of a large crowd of people, unfortunately, usually translates to tonnes of garbage on the shore.
Some citizens, however, took up the responsibility to undo the damage. In Dadar, college-going friends gathered every Sunday, as part of their school reunion and began picking up the trash they came across. This became a routine activity for them, and soon enough, they were joined by hundreds of volunteers. You can read their whole story here.
The Versova beach clean-ups resulted in nesting of Olive Ridley Turtles, after nearly two decades! Want to know more about how this happened? Read the story here
2. Man now grows mangroves:
Mumbai needs to protect it Mangroves, and cannot afford to lose them. These trees have evolved in a way that they thrive in coastal regions with salt water immersions—water that is not potable for most kinds of vegetation.
Mangrove swamps located in areas like Sewari and along the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR), were almost completely destroyed by human activity. In the case of Sewari, the pollution from coking coal debris in a nearby depot was responsible for the blackening of these green spots, while mangroves in JLVR were cut off from seawater due to illegal bunds.
The district government body then decided it was time to restore these mangroves.
N Vasudevan, the additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell, spoke to the Hindustan Times about the revival of the Sewari mangroves.
“Today, there are 8-ft mangrove trees at the site that rejuvenated on its own after the coal depot was moved out,” he said.
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3. Pumping more oxygen than pollutants:
The construction of the Bhandup pumping station and sewage treatment plant in the late 90s was a threat to the wildlife there. Soon, mangrove swamps and seven ponds around the pumping station dried up.
An NGO called Vanashakti went to the Bombay High Court with this matter, hoping for justice to the city’s lost green patch.
The state mangrove cell soon started their examination and developed a plan to restore these lost mangrove patches. In five years, their efforts bore fruit, and the seven ponds were completely restored.
Speaking to HT, Stalin D, the director of Vanashakti said, “the local fishing community helped us with plantation and also provided protection from further encroachments. Today, the area boasts of high avian biodiversity and water is accessible to all mangrove patches.”
4. Clean-up at Lokhandwala
The Lokhandwala lake in Andheri had suffered for decades, owing to continuous construction and garbage dumping by citizens. This pollution had resulted in the lake drying up every summer, as hundreds of animals lost their home.
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In 2014, however, three concerned citizens decided to take matters to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). They approached the authorities to desilt the lake and their effort, needless to say, bore fruit.
Lekhi, one of the three citizens told the Hindustan Times, “After the lake filled up in the monsoon, it was heartening to see crystal clear water. We decided to plant around 100 indigenous tree saplings around the lake. Subsequently, the lake became a wetland jewel over the years.”
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)