July 08, 2007

life in general: bombay's rain-greened forest

Today morning, I went for a nature trail (which I do every now and then) in the hilly forest of Bombay. There are two public entrances to the forest – one which is on the west of the hills and is in the Borivli suburb (near to where I reside—Kandivli suburb) and the eastern one (called Yeeor) which is in Thane and enters the forest from the east side of the hills. In the adjacent photo see the circled portion – thats the forest, and see the two arrows – those are roughly the two public entrances.

My visits to the forest from Borivli are much more frequent than from Yeeor due to the proximity of the former. So I look out for opportunities to go from Yeeor side.

A local nature group—Bombay Nature History Society—of wh
ich I am a member organises regular nature trails in and around Bombay and at least once a year it includes the trail from Yeeor. Today was one such and I went for it. There were about 25 of us in today's trail.

Look at two photos from the trail – the rains have made the forest look green and beautiful! There was a spot where a strong stream coming down from the hills curved and some of us (including me) had a with-clothes-on dip in it. It felt really nice – the clean and cool water caressing my feet and legs and when my splashing the water on my face and hair.

We in Bombay (and surrounding Thane city) are lucky to have this forest. About 30-40 years ago the central government of India (and not the state government of Maharashtra) earmarked a big region in the hilly northern-central part of Bombay as a protected national park banning all construction in it and restricting access to the public. Had this not happened the corrupt state politicians (of all political parties) of Maharashtra would have completely destroyed the green cover within the forest.

Which is what is happened in the rest of Bombay. Its a concrete jungle with 95% surface being covered by buildings and cemented roads. So when the rains come the rainwater which would otherwise have seeped in the earth and filled up the groundwater table is now forced to go to the drainage system. The rainwater which can be used by Bombay for non-drinking purpose is thus wasted. And since the drainage system gets choked with all the plastic (from dry food packets, tobacco pouches, chocolate wrappers, plastic bags etc) that Bombay's insensitive people throw on the streets and railway tracks, heavy rains floods many parts of Bombay and damaging infrastructure and people's homes.

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