Wednesday, 18 February 2015

When a Green Zone loses out to Development

Source~ Wikipedia. Image by Mike Peel
As I had promised my grand daughter, Sheila, we were headed to the Zoo in Goregaon, Mumbai. She was quite excited, as any twelve year old would have been. As we drove down the six lane road, I saw vehicles zipping by on the East-West Freeway which shot past overhead. Signs that this was the year 2026 and not the decade before it. The morning grey haze refused to brighten as the day progressed.

"You know, Sheila, when you were a baby, this place used to be a verdant green area~ all 3160 Acres of it! It used to be even called 'the lungs of Mumbai' and rightly so. We used to visit this place ever so often and we have fond memories of it...going for long walks, the boating at the lake, all those film shootings because of the scenic landscape and the fun of a picnic there on a Sunday. We often brought your mother here to play when she was a child."

"Where's all that gone?" Sheila asked in bewilderment "I can't see any sign of it."

"Can you see those tall buildings? That used to be 'Chota Kashmir', one of Suburban Mumbai's most loved picnic spots. The pictures I had taken will give you an idea how beautiful it was. The flora and fauna there was its highlight. Remind me to show you the pics when we reach home. As we drove, I pointed out to the right. You see the huge parking lot and sprawling food court? That's where the lake was" I sighed with nostalgia in my voice.

"None of this was there at all. The Metro shed, Freeway, Business district, Residential buildings for rehabilitation projects and of course, the Zoo, where we are now headed. It was a massacre of the green vista~ the few trees which were spared withered due to the rising pollution. As for the birds and wildlife... "

"Wait a minute. Did none of the people in the area object to plans so insensitive to ecology? Did you not protest? And what about you, specifically, you, grandpa? You are so vocal about issues that are close to your heart. Your voice could have made a difference. Couldn't you have spoken on behalf of the trees who can't speak? What did you do to stop this massacre?"

I could not look her in her eyes. Innocent but determined eyes.
"I was occupied in other causes at that time. I admit I could have done better."

"Your 'better' is not good enough now, is it? I can tell you this for sure. If I were in your place I would have fought tooth and nail to preserve nature's gift for the generations to follow me."
Shiela seemed really upset. "Let's turn around, grandpa. I am in no mood to go to the Zoo anymore."

What was this all about? To readers outside Mumbai and India, here's a newspaper report about the proposed destruction by the civic authority.
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