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Environment minister not a Green

Jun 06, 2007 08:25 PM IST India India

Mumbai Just when people across the world are mulling ways to save environment and take measures against global warming—Maharashtra’s environment minister is ready to raze the entire green belt of Mumbai to make way for roads and commercial buildings.

Maharashtra's Environment minister Ganesh Naik clearly has little regard for his ministerial portfolio. At an environment day function he said he wants to build buildings over Mumbai's mangrove vegetation.

Hundreds of acres of lush mangroves are a vital buffer that protects Mumbai from the sea fury during monsoons. But if Naik has his way, the Coastal Regulation Zone law that protects the green belt, can well go to trash.

“If a law creates obstacles in a country's progress, then it should be scrapped,” he said at a public meeting. Here’s what Naik's bizarre plan entails:

Environmental Disaster

  • He plans to scrap the coastal regulation zones in Mumbai entirely, and open them up for buildings and commercial centres.

  • His master plan includes razing all the mangroves across Mumbai to build more roads.

  • As compensation, he plans to relocate the displaced mangroves somewhere else

That's not all. The minister is also asking for a Dubai-style man-made island to be built off the coast. While the state government has distanced itself from minister’s remarks, many are calling his ideas not just irresponsible, but also ludicrous.

“Scrapping the CRZ would be an ecological disaster. The green belts are the best defense against climate change. If these are scrapped for commercial interests, we will bring disastrous and irrevocable changes,” says environmentalist Debi Goenka.

Naik had earlier suggested that all open spaces in Mumbai, including the Mahalaxmi racecourse, be sold to developers. “No laws will be changed unnecessarily. That’s all that I can say. I cannot comment further on this matter,” says Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Clearly the government is still looking at ways to duck this unexpected controversy.