How to Drown Mumbai!

Posted by: Bittu Sahgal on

"Be careful what you wish for because it might come true!" After obliterating wetlands, coasts, gardens, mills and virtually every other open space, "Free the salt pans," has become the battle cry of builders and politicians who wish to turn public spaces into private cash. Even ten-year-old kids know today that sea levels are rising, cyclonic wind speeds are approaching 200+ kmph and buildings, past and future, constructed on reclaimed lands along the coast in Mumbai are going to be the first victims of climate change. Instead of protecting citizens from such imminent threats, they want to fill up salt pan lands, which are really giant 'bathtubs' that hold millions of tons of tidal waters? If they succeed, the displaced water from 5,000 acres of land will flood not only Navi Mumbai and Sewri, but virtually all adjacent low-lying areas. Add to this the folly in constructing the new airport on mangrove-mudflat land... and the water-displacement is magnified many times over. This combination of ignorance, avarice and arrogance is precisely what caused Mumbai's Mithi Disaster. Inexplicably, instead of widening the mouth of the Mithi river to allow evacuation of rain water into the sea, the authorities have NARROWED it further since the Mithi tragedy.

I think Mumbai's city planners really want to be remembered by history as the myopic ones who learned nothing from history."