Even as the state government mulls the option of reclaiming more land from the sea, the plan has been criticised by environmentalists and urban planners.
The state will face a lot of hurdles to form a consensus about its plan to reclaim more land.
On August 4, Hindustan Times reported that a Singapore-based firm, Surbana International, has suggested reclaiming land from the sea —an option the state was thinking about it.
Gautam Kirtane, an environmental science expert and a research-fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a city-based think-tank, said the state should begin utilising the available resources in a better way.
“Currently, the city suffers from an acute lack of distribution of wealth. Developing the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) to its fullest extent would be a better option, rather than reclaiming more land from the sea.”
HT had reported that the state was planning to extend MMR to a larger urban zone that would span the Pune-Nashik belt, which would be serviced by transit corridors such as the Metro and high-speed highways.
“Singapore had exhausted all its available land options before it reclaimed more land. We still have a long way to go before the MMR is equally developed, and to it’s best potential,” said Kirtane.
Urban Planner Vidyadhar Phatak agrees with the state’s reasoning for mulling reclamation.
“Reclamation of land as a conceptual alternative is worth some serious thought and public debate. Even though reclamation would create more public land, the state needs to ensure that the land is used in public interest.”
However, there are environmental concerns in the process of reclaiming land.
Janak Daftary, an ecologist and a former IITian, said the city would have to incur a heavy environmental cost.
“Reclaiming land will mean interfering with various environmental factors-something that will have disastrous consequences for the environment. This has to be kept in mind while planning for the city, 20 years down the line.”
He voiced concerns about fiddling with nature. “Why invite nature’s wrath?” he asked.