The Centre’s showpiece project for high-speed railway between Mumbai and Ahmedabad may eat into forest land and eco-sensitive zones of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and Tungareshwar and Thane creek flamingo sanctuaries.
The proposal for the project will be taken up in the meeting of the Maharashtra State Board of Wildlife to be held under Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday.
“The project requires total 115.5007 ha. of notified Eco Sensitive Zone of SGNP and Tungareshwar WLS and its Eco Sensitive Zone. The proposed project is top priority for consideration of Prime Minister’s Office and it is also on priority order of Maharashtra government being considered as highly sensitive project,” said the agenda of the meeting.
The state forest department claims no man-animal conflict by wild animals (leopards) was observed in the area of the project in the last year. However, in February, a male leopard was killed in an accident on Kaman-Bhiwandi state highway near the area of the proposed project.
The Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) has recommended the proposal based on conditions like mitigation measures like underpasses for wildlife, fencing sites where viaduct tracks meets the ground for tunnels in the hilly sections and restricting movement of vehicles to existing roads and tracks, being incorporated.
Similarly, in the Thane creek flamingo sanctuary, 3.2756 ha forest area and non-forest area of Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary, total 97.5189 ha forest area and non-forest area of the Deemed Eco Sensitive Zone, is required.
The railway line is passing through an underground tunnel at the depth of 25 to 40 meters below the creek’s surface area. “Out of the total project cost (of) Rs 1,08,000.00 crore, Rs 496.167 crore expenditure is proposed for the construction of the railway line in the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary,” said the agenda note.
The CWW has recommended this based on conditions like project personnel following provisions of laws like the Environment Protection Act, 1986, Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 to protect flora and fauna, the work site being barricaded to avoid human and wildlife mishaps and not affecting normal traffic flow. The CWW has also sought that the project agency should provide site and funds for penal plantation of at least 5 times the number of mangroves plants anticipated to be lost in this project.