Aaditya Thackeray lectures government on environment, fails to address the ‘penguin’ in the room

Aaditya Thackeray lectures government on environment, fails to address the 'penguin' in the room
Aaditya Thackeray, (left) Protesters opposing the decision to bring penguins to Mumbai

Despite facing criticism for bringing Humboldt penguins to the city, Yuva Sena president Aditya Thackeray on Wednesday slammed the government’s proposed policy that seeks to monetise land claiming that it will have an adverse effect on Mumbai’s environment, while conveniently failing to address the ‘penguin’ in the room.

In a statement, he said that Mumbai has a large population which co-exists with rich biodiversity, but the two-year-old government is killing the city ‘environmentally’.

“We cannot run a government that is so unaware of the global and local impact of climate change. The rising sea level will not be healed by hailing and retweeting international treaties and photo-ops, but by truly acting on it,” Thackeray said.

The debt-ridden state government had decided to raise around Rs 2 lakh crore by selling unused land at prime locations in the city, a decision that the Thackeray scion feels will have a negative impact on the environment.

“Monetising Mumbai’s open spaces will bring in global warming and dangers of environmental destruction,” he added.

While Thackeray’s concern for the city’s environment may well be justified, it does raise questions about the youth leader’s ability to ‘practice what he preaches’.

Since Sunday, when one of the eight penguins brought the city died at Byculla zoo, animal activists and opposition leaders have been questioning the decision to import the flightless birds to the city considering the fact that no one asked for it.

While preserving exotic animals at well maintained zoos and animal sanctuaries is common in developed countries, Thackeray’s decision to import the Humboldt penguins to Mumbai had met with strong opposition from the very beginning.

Activists had slammed the Sena-led civic body for spending crores on importing the birds and shelling out more of tax payer’s money on their upkeep.

All of which, given the fact that the city’s weather is the exact opposite of a penguin’s natural habitat, is far from an ideal arrangement.

When the inevitable happened on Sunday, both activists and opposition leaders demanded that the civic body end the plight of the birds and send them back to a more suitable environment.

Opposing political parties even went to the extent of putting up hoardings ‘mocking’ Thackeray and demanded an enquiry into the bird’s cause of death.

While everyone is¬†waiting in anticipation to see how, and if, Sena manages to rise above the unmitigated disaster, Jr. Thackeray’s strategy it seems is to simply ignore the matter for the time being.

“Environmentalists and animal activists had opposed the move from the beginning, but we were assured that adequate arrangements were put in place for the penguins. But in just 3 months, one of the eight Humboldt penguins has died. The least Aaditya Thackeray should have done, since it was his idea in the first place, was admit that the civic body was wrong and make arrangements for the birds to be sent back. If not that, he should have come out and assured citizens that a similar fate does not await the others,” said animal activist Subhash N.

“Lecturing government about environment and failing to pay heed to the problem at hand is not acceptable in my opinion,” he added.

Unfortunately for Thackeray and Shiv Sena, the penguin’s death comes in the wake of the impending BMC elections, as the party continues to spar with coalition partner BJP and an opposition with little to lose.

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