Coastal Road Project: Tree felling inevitable, but project will reduce pollution, flooding, says BMC

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Published on Jun 22, 2020 11:27 PM IST
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ByMehul R Thakkar, Mumbai

In response to 176 suggestions and objections by citizens on cutting of trees for the Coastal Road, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has said tree felling is inevitable. The civic body has also defended the Coastal Road Project on grounds that it will reduce flooding, pollution and increase the green cover.

BMC, replying to the queries, said, “It is inevitable to cut few trees falling in the alignment of Coastal Road to construct it. Though few trees are affected, compensatory afforestation with the ratio of 1:3 is proposed. Further, green areas will be created along the Coastal Road. The Coastal Road Project will benefit the public at large in various aspects. It will reduce pollution, save time and increase the green cover etc. The transplantation/cutting of trees will be carried out as per the guidelines and approval by the Tree Authority.”

The BMC had called for suggestions and objections from citizens for cutting and transplantation of trees between Princess Street Flyover and Worli for construction of around 9km long Coastal Road project in February 2020.

The BMC had received around 176 suggestions and objections for the same. On Saturday, the civic body uploaded responses to these suggestions.

According to BMC, around 600 trees will be affected during the construction of the ambitious Mumbai Coastal Road, which is proposed to link Marine Drive to the southern end of Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Of these 140 trees are proposed to be cut, while 460 are to be transplanted. Between Princess Street Flyover and Priyadarshani Park, 31 trees are proposed to be cut and 127 transplanted. Between Bhulabhai Desai Road and Tata Garden, 61 are proposed to be cut and 79 transplanted. Lastly, from Haji Ali to Lotus junction at Lala Lajpatrai Road, 38 trees are proposed to be cut and 49 transplanted, while at Worli Seaface, 10 trees are to be cut and 205 transplanted.

Zoru Bhathena, citizen environmentalist, who had filed the objection over cutting and transplanting of trees said, “I do not understand why 600 trees are affected for a road that is being built on reclaimed land? The BMC has to come out clear on how so many trees are being affected. We could understand five-10 trees being cut or transplanted, but 600 is a huge number. Also, BMC claims Coastal Road will result in the reduction of flooding conditions, however, it looks like BMC follows their made-up theories on physics, geography, history and environmental studies. This is just a classic example of all that is wrong with BMC.”

The coastal road project was originally conceptualised to connect the suburbs and the city and is likely to unclog Mumbai’s roads. Of the total 90 hectares (ha) that will be reclaimed for Phase-1 of the coastal road between Princess Street Flyover and Worli, 20 ha is allotted for the project, while the remaining 70ha is reserved for green cover, in which BMC plans to undertake the plantation.

Meanwhile, Pradip Patade, marine conservationist from south Mumbai said, “I doubt that flooding conditions will reduce due to construction of a Coastal Road. This is a general logic because the more you fill in the sea, the more will come out. I have seen pictures of how water has been hitting the construction site, and somehow I doubt whether flooding conditions will reduce due to coastal road.”

Responding to the same, Vijay Nighot, chief engineer, BMC’s coastal road project said, “We are yet not at the stage where tree cutting or transplantation can start for now considering we are yet to get the final nod from the BMC’s tree authority. Also, when we say flooding will reduce, it is because we are going to build a sea-wall, and due to this comparatively flooding will reduce. We have not claimed that there will not be any flooding.”

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