The authority assessment committee of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) gave its permission to the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited’s (NHSRCL) project, asking permission to remove mangroves in Thane, Navi Mumbai and Palghar districts to make way for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, and notified the Bombay High Court on Monday.
The counsel for Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), Sharmila Deshmukh on March 18 told the court that the NHSRCL project had been approved and a request sent to the MoEF for the final acceptance. The NHSRCL had moved the High Court last month, after the MCZMA told the corporation that it could not grant permission to remove 19 hectares of mangroves, owing to an HC direction not allowing to do so. The NHSRCL had then approached the HC after its proposal was rejected by the MCZMA on December 22, 2018.
The 155.642 km out of the 508-km long corridor, passes through Maharashtra and affects 131.3 hectares of forest area, including mangroves spread over 32.43 hectares, according to the petition. The NHSRCL in its proposal had said that about 1.5 lakh mangroves grown over 18.92 hectares will be affected by the corridor.
The state government at their earlier hearing had filed a testimony through Vikas Jagtap, Divisional Forest Officer, Mumbai Mangrove Conversation Unit, stating that part of the proposed project is within the protected area and eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary and Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
The affidavit adds that the project alignment passing through the creek is proposed inside an underground tunnel that will be 25 to 40 meters in depth. The underground tunnel project requires grounding mangrove trees on the surface. The project will not affect the flora and fauna of the flamingo sanctuary.
The affidavit also states that the proposal is recommended to MoEF for turning forest area under the Forest (Conservation) Act. The affidavit states that the project is “visionary and will herald a new era of safety, speed, and service” for the people and help the Indian Railways become an international leader in scale, speed, and skill.