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Andheri residents take it upon themselves to save mangroves

Mangroves,a natural greenbelt or buffer zone that has the potential to protect the city from powerful rains,are depleting at a fast pace.

Written by Dhanya Nair | Mumbai |
May 22, 2009 3:12:19 am

Mangroves,a natural greenbelt or buffer zone that has the potential to protect the city from powerful rains,are depleting at a fast pace. Ahead of monsoon,the residents of a suburban area have taken it upon themselves to avoid further depletion of the greenbelt.

As part of their pre-monsoon preparedness,the residents will undertake a cleanup drive on the stretch between Lokhandwala and Seven Bungalows in Andheri. The drive will be kickstarted on June 5,the World Environment Day.

Environmentalists say huge pile-up of garbage is one of the main threats to the existing mangrove stretch in the city. In Lokhandwala,the daily pile of rubble from private constructions and other works,almost 7,000 tonnes a day,is on the rise owing to ongoing excavations for mega projects.

The residents,fearing a 26/7 like situation,are gearing up for action. “Mangroves act as natural buffers and can prevent a flood-like situation because their roots go about 5 ft deep and sometimes even further. They can soak any amount of rainfall,” said Rishi Aggarwal,joint secretary,Mangrove Society of India,Mumbai chapter. “This stretch is more important because trees have the best survival rate here.”

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However,residents fear that this time it won’t be a smooth sail. “With garbage piling up,it will act as a bottleneck preventing mangroves from doing its natural task. Hence,we have to clean up this mess before it proves too costly,” said Aggarwal.

They have written a letter to the BMC,seeking help to carry out the drive. “We won’t be able to make much of a difference. We have approached the civic body to give us its volunteers as well. Once we have them with us,we can bring a change,” said resident and joint secretary of Lokhandwala Complex Environment Action Group,P K Patel.

Ahmed Kareem,the chief engineer of the solid waste management in BMC,admitted that garbage pile-up in the mangrove stretch is a huge problem. “Garbage in mangrove belt can create leakages and bottlenecks. The problem is definitely high and if residents and community associations are undertaking cleanup drives we will definitely help them,” said Kareem.

The residents also want a wall to be built on the periphery of a temporary garbage dumping ground that falls inside the belt. “Ideally,this dumping ground should not be here. But we think it’s a necessary evil. Therefore we want the BMC to build a retaining wall,” said Aggarwal.

The residents are also planning awareness campaigns on the importance of segregating wet and dry garbage. “Residents don’t segregate their garbage and ultimately it all lands up in this stretch. We aim to change this mind set,” said architect Yash Merchant,another resident.

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