As you watch this video, I am sure you will feel the same sense of disbelief and anguish that I did.
On Friday 21 November, we were escorting a group from the Press through Haji Bundar and Darukhana to share with them the problems and potential of our PortLands. We had just trudged past the coal mountains and had paused to spend the sunset with the magnificent Vikrant.
The sight before us brought us to an abrupt halt. Blow torches were cutting through the hull of the Vikrant and a few minutes later we saw her bite the dust, before our eyes.
A few weeks ago, Munna bhai, the scrap merchant who had purchased the ship for Rs 63 crores had called and asked for a meeting. He explained that as far as he was concerned scrapping the Vikrant was simply business. “Try and understand” he said, “by trying to save the ship you are costing me money”
Undeterred, a small group of us intensified our efforts to save this iconic ship: we sought and received the support of 3 of the senior most former Chiefs of Naval staff : Admiral Tahiliani, Admiral Nadkarni and Admiral Ramdas. They were confident that a letter signed jointly by them, suggesting a practical and commercially viable solution to saving the Vikrant, would not go unheard by the Powers that be. Sadly, even as that letter was on its way, the Vikrant, a precious symbol of India’s maritime heritage, was being cut to pieces.
In a city where money talks – voices that speak for the future are often silenced, or go unheard, until it is too late.
We have witnessed this in our MillLands. We have seen this with the Vikrant. Let us join hands to make sure that this does not happen with our PortLands.
Let the loss of the Vikrant be a wake up call.
As she goes to her grave, in a ship-breaking yard in the heart of South Mumbai, let us join hands to protest the toxic poisons, that the water, air and soil of Mumbai – and each of us, is being exposed to. We could not save the Vikrant – at least let us try and save ourselves.
We can stop the dumping of coal in Haji Bundar. We can stop the ship breaking in Darukhana. We can stop the disastrous Offshore Container Terminal that will choke the arteries of our city. And we can regenerate the PortLands to provide a precious Green lung for our children.
If you feel strongly about this please join the PortLands movement.
Please come to the PortLands exhibition on Thursday 27th Nov, at Kala Ghoda, and see how the vision of young Mumbaikars, has aligned with the best design principles in the world, to present an alternative future for our city.
Please share this message as widely as you can.
If every Mumbaikar embraces our PortLands, then no vested interest, no matter how powerful, can destroy this last remaining hope for the future of our city.