Mumbai

Profits, not environmental concern, drive Coastal Road project, says petitioner

Wake-up call: (From left) Dr. Amita Athawale, Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Pradip Patale and Shweta Wagh at a climate conference in the city.

Wake-up call: (From left) Dr. Amita Athawale, Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Pradip Patale and Shweta Wagh at a climate conference in the city.  

Planning is unscientific, no-development zones in city opened up: Shweta Wagh at climate conference

The planning behind the Coastal Road project is uncoordinated and driven by profits and contractors’ interests rather than social or environmental priorities, said Shweta Wagh, associate professor at Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture and Environmental Studies.

Ms. Wagh, who is also one of the petitioners against the Coastal Road project, was one of the panellists at a recent discussion on the project at Climate Crisis: Action for Tropical Coastal Cities, a conference on the effects of climate change and steps that can be taken to avoid or repair them.

“The approach towards planning the project is highly unscientific and is driven by needs of profits rather than the realities of the city. No-development zones, which earlier allowed restricted development, have now been opened up for urban development,” Ms. Wagh said. In Aarey colony, these include the Metro car shed and high density resettlement, which are to be built in the catchment areas.

She said, “The Chitale Committee report on the Mumbai floods points out that reduction in permeable areas in catchments results in downstream flooding.”

Ms. Wagh said the State government is trying to justify development projects that are destructive and causing damage to nature. She emphasised the importance of transparency and engagement with citizens in the decision-making process.

“The public is doing its part. The fishermen affected by the Coastal Road project filed a complaint as it was impacting their livelihood. Even the Coastal Regulation Zone permissions were obtained without the appropriate documents in this case,” she said.

Pradip Patade, co-founder of Marine Life of Mumbai, a citizen-driven initiative aimed at exploring and understanding Mumbai’s coastal biodiversity, displayed pictures of species of marine animals found in the city’s coastal areas.

Explaining the link between climate change and health disorders, Dr. Amita Athawale, Professor and Head of Department, Pulmonary Medicine and Environmental Pollution Research Centre, KEM Hospital, said asthma, cough and cold and allergies are directly affected by the change in weather. Ms. Athawale said low-allergy-inducing, ornamental plants found in streets and gardens can significantly reduce these effects.

She said, “The major causes of health issues are animals and insects, food and water safety, carbon monoxide and our daily habits. Waste management is also a huge problem in Mumbai. People usually believe in popping a paracetamol when they are affected by any kind of body ache, but self-medication can land one in trouble.”

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 11:20:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/profits-not-environmental-concern-drive-coastal-road-project-says-petitioner/article30976420.ece

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