Write to Aaditya Thackeray

Mumbai stands at a critical point in its history. Our rich ecosystems and unique biodiversity are under threat from unsustainable planning and rapidly growing emissions. Without nature, we cannot survive. We are writing to Aaditya Thackeray as the State Minister for Environment and Tourism, but also as someone who has shown an interest in engaging in conversations about the future of Mumbai’s nature. Here are some of the things we are asking Aaditya Thackeray, Minister of Environment, to do to ensure the future of Mumbai for all of us.

Since we began this letter, the Maharashtra government has declared 800 acres of the Aarey Forest as reserve forest in October 2020. We are continuing to collect signatures for the rest of our requests, and will celebrate the work of all the Mumbai activists and communities who made the Aarey Forest a reality!

Our Demands

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Demand #1
Declare Lesser Flamingos as a protected species of Maharashtra

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Demand #2
Declare 5 biodiversity hotspots in Mumbai which must be protected

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Demand #3
Acknowledge Aarey as a forest and declare it as a no development protected area

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Demand #4
Propose a supportive policy that sustains the livelihoods of Koli communities in MMR

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Demand #5
Acknowledge the need for the protection of marine ecosystems

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Group 58

November 25, 2020

Dear Aaditya Thackeray,

We are writing to you about the biodiversity of Mumbai. Our city stands at a critical point, our incredibly rich ecosystem and low carbon footprint coming under threat from unsustainable planning and rapidly growing development. Through expert conversations and public dialogue, we have come to you with these requests.

While all mangroves in Mumbai are declared protected forests as CZ1 areas, and their destruction is not allowed in most circumstances, we urge you to take further action. The Lesser Flamingos that flock to Mumbai every year must be protected, and their habitat preserved - they are a symbol of the city now! We are asking you to announce a special status of Lesser Flamingos as a protected species of Maharashtra. To cement their protection, we ask you to declare critical wetlands and mangroves in MMR (Sewri mudflats, Thane creek flamingo sanctuary, Gorai wetlands, Bhandup pumping station, Vasai-virar wetlands, Uran wetlands, TS Chanakya and Talawe wetlands) as no development protected areas.

Green cover and deforestation are major environmental issues for Mumbaikars, and they cut across class and geography. The Aarey Forest has become a lightning rod around which Mumbaikars have rallied for the city’s green spaces, and we urge you to keep that momentum going by acknowledging the Aarey forests as forests with a formal notification released in the public domain and declare them as no development protected areas.

Moving to your own ward in Mumbai, the Koli fishing community has been hard-hit by the Covid pandemic, coastal development, and the industrial fishing industry. We must support the Koli fishing community’s livelihoods, which provide a sustainable alternative for fishing that will ultimately support our marine biodiversity. We are asking you to propose a policy that supports the livelihoods of the Koli community in the MMR, and protect Mumbai’s coast.

In the last months, through monsoon flooding, COVID-19 cases, and economic challenges, Maharashtra has remained a leader in environmental protection. Our generation represents the future leaders of Mumbai, and we ask that you protect our legacy of biodiversity.

Signed,
Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic

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