London: Indian industrialist Adi Godrej has offered 1,750 acres of land to London city for developing it as a nature reserve to protect its dwindling mangrove forests.
The industrialist, with a fortune estimated at £4.5 billion told The Times that he planned to “set aside 1,750 acres (700 hectares) of the 3,500 acres he owns in the city as a conservation area that would be open to the public.”
“My grandfather bought all this land after World War II,” Godrej said.
“It cost him Rs 30 lakh, which was a lot of money at the time. These days it is worth a lot more than that... I think it makes me the biggest landowner in Mumbai.”
The company, which is 75% owned by Godrej’s family, had planned to develop the land for industry. But a huge tract of forest, the second largest open space left in the city, remains intact.
“We have reserved nearly 2,000 acres as a mangrove forest, which we do not wish to develop,” he said.
“A lot of Bombay’s mangroves have been encroached upon.”
Godrej’s lush nature park is home to an astonishing variety of wildlife.
“We have jackals, wild board, flamingos, cobras, vipers, more than 20 species of fish and 206 species of bird,” said Dr Maya Mahajan, a wildlife expert who is managing the project.
She said that Mumbai currently has less green space than any large city in the world - just 1.1 square metres (11 square feet) per person, compared with 32 square metres in London and 26 in New York.
“There are so few green spaces left in Mumbai. What is left must be preserved or it will be lost forever,” she said, adding that the preservation of mangroves is more than just a luxury for recreation.