The government of Maharashtra is very much concerned about its citizens’ comfort and welfare. It is trying its ‘best’ to solve the problems concerning the taxpayers through its ‘ambitious’ projects. One such ambitious project for which the government is anxiously looking forward is Borivali-Thane six-lane tunnel project passing through the city forest area, Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
This project follows suit after its another ‘ambitious’ project of ‘development’ of Aarey Colony which is the only surviving green lungs of Mumbai by constructing Metro car shade, building low budget homes, introducing entertainment park and building schools and hospitals. The government of Maharashtra seems to have a special affinity for green areas as most of its ‘development projects’ are planned in these scarcely available green areas.
Environmentalists have warned about the possible damage that may cause to the groundwater table because of activities related to the construction of the tunnel, which may end up drying Tulsi and Vihar Lakes. Sanjay Gandhi National Park was already besieged with the issue of dry waterholes in summer last year which had left its animal residents dehydrated. Does drying up of water bodies not constitute adverse environmental impact?
The constant sound of construction work, sounds from vehicles once the tunnel becomes operational, the inevitable honking and human interference in the otherwise silent forest zone are going to disturb the wild inhabitants of the forest. Is this not an adverse environmental impact?
Sanjay Gandhi National Park is still facing problems of countless unauthorized structures despite the Mumbai High Court asking authorities to clear the park of all inhabitation more than a decade ago which have been leading to massive deforestation. The increased human settlement due to the construction of the tunnel is further going to pose threat to the illegal occupation of the national park increasing the animal-human conflict. But it seems that the government doesn’t find any of the above issues as a threat to the environment as long as there is economic sustainability.
I wish money could grow on trees, our politicians would have been ‘ambitious’ about ‘development’ of forest cover. Public Works Department (PWD) minister, Eknath Shinde wants citizens of Mumbai to believe that the tunnel will reduce pollution and save fuel consumption. If the government is really concerned about reducing the travel time thereby reducing the fuel and pollution, the first step it should take is to work on providing better roads, rather than attacking the ecology as a solution, for every developmental need.
The roads in Mumbai are encroached by garage owners, cars’ showrooms, transporters, restaurants and housing societies who park their vehicles on the road. The other encroachments come from shops and commercial establishments that have illegally occupied the roads causing bottle-necked roads and consequent traffic jams. The next nightmare for Mumbai comes in the form of roads dug throughout the year to lay cables by utility suppliers like electricity, telephone, and internet connections companies which disturb the road base and lead to potholes formation.
Mumbai suffers a huge loss of fuel wastage annually on account of poor road conditions and traffic jams. The poor conditions of roads make Mumbai susceptible to road traffic accidents, making the city the ‘accident capital’ of the country. The government should first ‘ambitiously’ take severe action against encroachments and make roads congestion-free. There should be brainstorming and concrete action on how to make all utility suppliers carry out their work without digging the road and damaging its top surface.
If the BMC and the government get serious in tackling the above issues, then the travel time between any two places in Mumbai could be drastically reduced thereby reducing the fuel consumption, pollution and saving the precious time of the tax payers. It is primarily advised to first rectify the existing infrastructure within the city through the above solutions that are practical, simple as well as cost effective rather building new infrastructure that involves skyrocketing budgets.