Over 50,000 Mangrove Trees to be cut for Bullet Train project, HC told

The Bombay HC is hearing the rail corporation’s petition, challenging the MCZMA’s decision to defer their proposal of razing mangroves for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. The Maharashtra coastal body has okayed the felling of over 50,000 mangrove trees for the bullet train project.

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has cleared a proposal to cut 53,467 mangrove trees, spread over 13.36 hectares (ha), for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) told the Bombay high court (HC) on Monday.

The project is expected to cut short the commute time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad to 2.5 hours from 6.5 hours.

The HC is hearing the rail corporation’s petition, challenging the MCZMA’s decision to defer their proposal of razing mangroves for the project.

The NHSRCL told high court that MCZMA, on March 7, cleared its proposal and sent it to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for a final sanction.

According to a letter sent by MCZMA to the director, Coastal Zone Regulation of the MoEF, 32.43ha mangrove forest area will be required to be diverted in Mumbai and Thane districts, and 53,467 mangrove trees, spread over 13.36ha, will need to be razed for India’s first highspeed rail project.

In its petition to the HC, NHSRCL has said that of the 508km-long high-speed corridor, 155.642km will pass through Maharashtra, affecting 131.30ha of forest area, including mangroves spread over 32.43ha.

It stated that of the 32.43km passing through CRZ areas in Maharashtra, 8.39km would be underground, and at places, the bullet train will pass through an elevated viaduct. Thus, it told HC that only 53,467 mangroves, spread over an area of 13.36ha, would be actually affected by the corridor.

Pralhad Paranjape, counsel for NHSRCL, had earlier argued that the corporation proposed to plant five times the actual number of mangroves affected by the corridor as against the statutory requirement of planting thrice the number of trees affected by a project.

Paranjape had submitted that the coastal authority failed to consider that the bullet train corridor is a “public interest project”.

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