The state government is banking heavily on developing salt pan land for the construction of affordable homes, but the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) believes it is important
The state government is banking heavily on developing salt pan land for the construction of affordable homes, but the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) believes it is important to preserve the same to protect the city from floods, as they comprise shallow depressed areas that hold seawater. The MMRDA also feels that salt pan land in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) faces a serious threat from the construction lobby, which is leading to the decline in the overall area and the production of salt.
The above is stated in the draft regional plan of the MMRDA 2016-2036, which has a dedicated chapter on status of the environment in MMR. Incidentally, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in its draft Development Plan (DP) 2014-2034 had proposed using 260 hectares of salt pan land for affordable housing.
The chapter in the MMRDA’s draft regional plan reads, “Environmental resources on the whole are at threat due to rampant urbanisation in MMR. Salt pans are not only important from the livelihood, economy and salt production perspectives, but are critical from the point of view of flood protection.”
The MMRDA has called for suggestions and objections for the draft regional plan 2016-2036 for the MMR. It has set a tentative deadline — January 19, 2017 — for submitting suggestions and objections.
Furthermore, the chapter speaks on issues relating to protected areas that are rich in biodiversity. “Encroachment and quarrying at the edges and foothills of forests, protected areas and steep slopes are leading to degradation of forested areas, which lead to erosion. Dumping of construction and demolition waste in coastal areas and rivers are a threat to coastal wetlands including mangroves and mudflats, also leading to flooding. Solid waste management sites on coastal wetland areas that lack scientific management also contribute to pollution of creeks.”
Meanwhile, Stalin Dayanand from NGO Vanashakti, said, “As a planning authority before the public, the onus of preserving environment lies on the MMRDA. They should begin this by protecting mangroves near the Mithi river and save the river from getting polluted. However, it is a welcoming step that the MMRDA has agreed that we need to adopt mitigation measures to save the environment.”