Mumbai , one of the leading cities in India has one of the nation’s highest urban sprawl, one which is slowly branching out and pacing towards an uncontrolled disaster in the foreseeable future. Unplanned urbanization in the city caused by the ineffectual coordination between the numerous local governments and their fragmentation has led to massive air, water and noise pollution in the city, notwithstanding the deforestation ,solid waste management as well as the urban heat islands finding their place in the region. According to the statistics given by the IISC Bangalore , in the last 4 decades, 94% of the city has been paved and reconstructed, and during this time it lost 60% of its vegetation and a staggering 64% of its water bodies. When once in the 70s its tree cover was 35% , its less than 13% in the present today.( a 33% green cover is recommended for effectively supporting a region). Mumbai’s urban population also has a growth rate {5%] higher than that of the national average (3.68%)..

The Aarey Belt concern

Situated in north Mumbai, the Aarey belt, a 1200 hectare patch ,  is the only green area in Mumbai’s suburbs .For the construction of the City metro and its projects ,a large number of trees were cut down in the area last decade. After an order passed the principal bench of the national green tribunal which cleared the decks for the construction of a car depot in the area , the Mumbai metro and rail corporation limited swiftly moved forward with the chopping down of more than 2600 trees in the area. This was met with nationwide protest from environmental activists and organizations, with many arguing that the area is a notified forest(a fact disputed by the state government )and that there were plenty of other alternatives available. The issue seems to be settled for now as last year Maharashtra’s CM Uddhav Thackeray announced that his government had issued an order to relocate the controversial metro project from its current site in Aarey Milk Colony to Kanjurmarg some 7.5 km away.

The Delhi Model and how it could work for Mumbai

Each time a tree is felled for the suburban railway network, the Metro authorities have to pay compensation to the Delhi Forest Department, which then carries out compensatory afforestation. A total of 10 saplings are planted for every tree cut, according to the Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), a joint venture of the union territory administration and the central government. According to the organization , the Metro concessionaire planted over 5 lakh saplings to compensate for the 43,727 trees cut for the three phases of the network — that is 11 times. A similar plan could work for the fellow metro city of Mumbai too.

Any which way, The city is in much need of a proper comprehensive plan ,much like a developmental one ,with collective action by both the private sector and the government itself in order to install a plan that keeps in mind in mind both the environment and the health and safety of its citizens. If the crisis at hand is not dealt with proactively in the present, it would lead to a bleak future , one where the sourcing of basic amenities like food and water would seem like an onerous task!

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