Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project: The proposal by National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), seeking permission to eliminate mangroves in the districts of Thane, Navi Mumbai and Palghar in order to make way for the country’s first bullet train corridor, has been approved by the expert appraisal committee of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The NHSRCL is executing the bullet train project, which will run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. According to an IE report, the corporation had moved to Bombay High Court last month, after the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) told NHSRCL that it could not grant permission to remove 19 hectares of mangroves, owing to a direction by High Court not allowing to do so. Following this, the corporation approached the High Court after MCZMA rejected its proposal on December 22, 2018.
According to the petition, 155.642 km out of the 508 km long Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor passes through the state of Maharashtra and affects 131.3 hectares of forest land. The forest area includes mangroves, which are spread over 32.43 hectares. The report further stated that the NHSRCL in its proposal had stated that around 1.5 lakh mangroves spread over an area of 18.92 hectares will be affected by the bullet train corridor.
According to the report, the state government of Maharashtra at the previous hearing had filed an affidavit through Divisional Forest Officer of Mumbai Mangrove Conversation Unit, Vikas Jagtap, stating that part of the proposed project is within the protected area and eco-sensitive zone of Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary. The affidavit also stated that the project alignment passing through the creek is proposed inside an underground tunnel that will be 25-40 metres in depth. The tunnel necessitates felling mangrove trees on the surface. With the implementation of this proposed project, the flora and fauna of flamingo sanctuary and adjacent areas will not be disturbed.
According to the affidavit, the project is visionary and will herald a new era of speed, safety, and service for the people. Also, the project will help Indian Railways become an international leader in speed, scale, and skill, it added.