1,436 more trees to be axed for Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train
Mumbai: A total of 1,436 trees in the Dahanu forest range, in Palghar district, are proposed to be felled to make way for the upcoming Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train
Mumbai: A total of 1,436 trees in the Dahanu forest range, in Palghar district, are proposed to be felled to make way for the upcoming Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train. This is as per a proposal by the Power Grid Corporation of India, which was considered for forest clearance (FC) this month by the union environment ministry’s regional empowered committee (REC) in Nagpur.
This is in addition to at least 21,997 mangrove trees which are slated to be cleared for the project, and for which permission had been granted by the MoEFCC in 2019.
The 1,400 odd trees are located on 22 hectares of forest land across three villages (Betegaon, Valva and Shigaon) in Palghar. This land has been earmarked for the realignment of five major power lines that are getting in the way of the bullet train corridor, and will have to be relocated. These include the 400KV Tarapur–Boisar Line, the 400KV Tarapur–Padghe Line, the 400KV Gandhar–Padghe Line, another 220KV Tarapur–Boisar Line and the 400KV Navasari-Boisar line, all of which are operated by PGCI.
The proposal was considered by the REC on August 10. As per a note submitted by the National High Speed Rail Corporation, which is executing the project, “The said railway corridor crosses the above transmission lines at 3 villages... under taluka and district Palghar. As informed by M/S NHSRCL authorities, all the above five lines require reorientation to take up the construction of the bullet train corridor to meet the technical and safety requirements.”
Of the 1,436 trees to be axed, 323 belong to a girth class above 61cms, indicating that they are older, larger specimens, while 503 trees have a girth between 0-30cms and 610 trees fall within the 31-60cms girth class. Officials declined to clarify their decision on this proposal for the time being, but added that compensatory afforestation to offset this loss is proposed to be carried out by the PGCI on 45 hectares of degraded forest land in the Boisar range, in Palghar itself.
A senior forest department official, who is a member of the REC, said, “The proposal has been pending for a year and a half, but could not be taken up due to delays especially after Covid-19 struck in March 2020. The trees are not being felled to make way for the bullet train viaduct, so the proposal is being considered separately, and is not part of the 131 hectares of forest land in Maharashtra which were diverted for the NHSRC in 2019. I cannot confirm whether we have cleared the project until the minutes of the meeting are finalised, but yes, shifting the power lines is very important to make room for the bullet train.”