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Navi Mumbai's IT hub project threatens biodiversity in mangroves and wetlands

Navi Mumbai's IT hub is not only threatening the ecological balance of the region but also raising questions about the sustainability.

By ArchitaKedia
New Update
mangroves of Mumbai

“…The IT hub, which is being, is not only threatening the ecological balance of the region but also raising questions about the sustainability of the development…”

Mumbai, the financial capital of India, is facing a development battle that threatens its vital ecosystems. The mangroves, which are a unique and vital ecosystem, are essential for the survival of the city and its residents are now under the scrutiny of the tech world. However, the destruction in Navi Mumbai, by the IT hub's construction is causing irreparable damage to the natural habitat of the region. Mangroves, like wetlands, are essential for climate resilience. They protect coastal areas from flooding, erosion, and storm surges.

Mangroves of Mumbai

Navi Mumbai is known for its scenic beauty and a rich variety of flora and fauna that flaunts its diverse wetlands such as mangroves pretty well. Mangroves are a group of trees and shrubs that grow in the intertidal zones of tropical coastlines. They are unique in their ability to survive in saltwater environments and serve as a critical habitat for a wide variety of marine and terrestrial species. Mangroves also act as a natural barrier against coastal erosion and protect shorelines from storm surges and tsunamis.

The wetlands of Navi Mumbai are crucial for the environment as they act as natural water filters, absorb pollutants, and provide a breeding ground for various aquatic creatures. They also act as a buffer against flooding during monsoons. However, the construction of the IT hub on these wetlands is creating an irreparable loss to the natural habitat of the region. The IT hub, which is being, is not only threatening the ecological balance of the region. But, also raising questions about the sustainability of the development.

According to a report by the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests, Mumbai has lost more than 40% of its mangrove cover in the past few decades. The destruction of mangroves is primarily due to urbanization and industrialization, which have resulted in the reclamation of coastal areas for construction activities.

Tech Vs Nature

The development of an IT hub in Navi Mumbai, which was initially touted as an eco-friendly project. But, it has raised concerns among environmentalists. The project, which is being developed on 200 hectares of land, is expected to have a significant impact on the region's fragile ecosystem.

According to a report, environmentalists have pointed out that the development of the IT hub will lead to the destruction of more than 150 hectares of wetlands and mangroves. The loss of these vital ecosystems will have significant consequences for the region's biodiversity and the livelihoods of local communities.

Airoli, Navi Mumbai, skyline from hills behind Airoli
Airoli, Navi Mumbai, skyline from hills behind Airoli | Photo: Gpairoli/Wikicommons

The NMSEZ project, which was proposed in 2006, was expected to generate significant economic growth and create jobs in the region. However, the project faced significant opposition from environmentalists and local communities. The opposition has raised concerns about its impact on the environment and the displacement of local communities. The NMSEZ project was eventually scrapped in 2016, and the land was returned to the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). The MIDC is now developing the IT hub on the same site.

The report quotes Debi Goenka, the executive trustee of the Conservation Action Trust, as saying,

"The proposed project area is a breeding ground for several species of birds and marine life. The project will lead to the loss of hundreds of hectares of wetlands and mangroves. This will have a significant impact on the region's biodiversity and the livelihoods of local communities."

The report also highlights the fact that the development of the IT hub will result in the loss of more than 70,000 trees. This will have a severe impact on the city's air quality and exacerbate the effects of climate change. Environmentalists have criticized the developers for not considering the ecological impact of the project. They argue that the developers could have explored alternative sites for the project that would not have resulted in the destruction of vital ecosystems. Wetlands and mangroves help reduce the spread of water-borne diseases, and the destruction of these ecosystems can lead to increased diseases like malaria and dengue.

The report further states that the developers have promised to plant five times the number of trees that will be cut down. However, environmentalists have raised concerns that the planting of trees cannot replace the ecological value of mature forests and wetlands. The development of the IT hub in Navi Mumbai is an example of the challenges that India faces in balancing economic growth with environmental conservation. The country has made significant progress in recent years in expanding its economy. But, this has often come at the cost of environmental degradation.

Judicial proceedings

In 2018, the Bombay High Court ordered the state government to ensure that the wetlands are protected, and their destruction is prevented. However, the construction of the IT hub has continued despite the court's orders. The government's decision to go ahead with the project despite the potential risks is a clear indication of the lack of importance given to environmental conservation in the country. However, the clearance to the Mumbai airport project in 2010 narrated a different story, despite concerns raised by environmentalists. The project's developers had promised to plant twice the number of mangrove saplings that will be destroyed.

The protests from environmentalists and local residents are still going on. But, so does the construction of the IT hub. The government's decision to go ahead with the project despite the potential risks is a clear indication of the lack of importance given to environmental conservation. Or, we should say more priority to the political and industrial sectors that will give them an economic benefit.

Call to action

It is high time that we take a stand against such destructive projects and work toward sustainable development. In short, the construction of the IT hub on the wetlands of Navi Mumbai and the destruction of mangroves is a threat to the biodiversity and climate resilience of the region. The government needs to take immediate action to prevent the destruction of wetlands and mangroves Furthermore, ensure that future development projects are sustainable and environmentally friendly. The preservation of our natural heritage is essential for the survival of our planet and the well-being of future generations. We need to act before it's too late and ensure that our future generations can also enjoy the beauty of our planet.

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