Mumbai is a coastal city and our coastline is under severe threat from rapid and careless degradation of the environment in the name of development. We often take our natural environment for granted even though our health and well-being greatly depend on it.
Given a choice, most of us would prefer to live in quiet, clean areas, where one can enjoy a good view of the sea or trees. Mumbai is fortunate to have an extensive coastline, mangroves, and several rivers and creeks. We are also one of the very few cities in the world to be home to an urban jungle—the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. However, things have come to such a pass that high-end building projects advertise a quiet, green environment as a part of an exclusive, luxurious way of life. Why has nature become out of reach of the common man?
Mumbai's location on the coast and the existence of a natural harbour led to its rapid growth. However, unplanned growth of the city has destroyed its green cover and replaced it with a 'concrete jungle'.
Skyrocketing buildings block natural light, air and access to the natural environment. We have got used to living in this concrete jungle, where we are exposed to high noise levels from traffic and construction work.
Our children, who have never been exposed to the natural environment, do not consider nature to be a part of their daily lives or place much value on it.
We have a right to a naturally beautiful environment. Citizens need to take up environmental issues in their neighbourhoods. It is only with active citizen participation that our children will grow up to know and enjoy the benefits of living life in harmony with the natural environment.
Sumaira is convenor of AWAAZ Foundation, Bandra.