32K mangroves to be razed for bullet train, NHSRCL confirms
A day after HT reported that the number of mangrove trees that would be lost to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project had been revised from 54,000 to 32,044, the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) confirmed the number. Meanwhile, two city organisations have written to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) about the environmental impact of the project.
“I would like to clarify that these [32,044 trees] are not the net loss of mangroves because NHSRCL will get affected mangroves from the bullet train project compensated at the rate of 1:5,” said Achal Khare, managing director, NHSRCL, which is building the railway. “If 32,044 mangroves are cut, then around 1,60,000 new mangroves will be planted and the entire financial expense will be borne by NHSRCL,” said Khare.
The reassessment came a week after the Maharashtra transport minister told the Assembly that 54,000 mangroves would be lost to the project. The latest assessment states 32,044 trees will be axed.
NHSRCL said it had taken required coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearances, but the environment ministry had asked for a review of the design of a station in Thane to see if more mangroves could be saved. “We discussed the design with Japanese engineers and modified it accordingly. Passenger areas like the parking zone and passenger handling area have now been moved out of the mangrove region,” said Khare. The redesigned station remains at the same location, but will impact three hectares of mangrove (as opposed to 12 hectares in the old design).
Meanwhile, Nature Connect and Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan have written a letter to UNEP and the Centre, raising concerns that the loss of mangrove cover would affect the livelihood of the fishing community in Mumbai and Thane. “With massive destruction of mangroves and no proper results of compensatory plantations, degraded areas only being used for real estate development,” said BN Kumar of Nature Connect. Nandkumar Pawar of Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan pointed out that the success rate of replanting mangroves is yet to be established.