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Goregaon-Mulund Link Road in Mumbai clears Sanjay Gandhi National Park green hurdle  

Rs3,800 crore project does not require environment clearance after Union ministry’s panel delists it

mumbai Updated: Apr 13, 2018 10:01 IST
Sanjana Bhalerao
Sanjana Bhalerao
Hindustan Times
The Goregaon-Mulund Link Road involves building twin tunnels of three lanes each under the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, an ecologically-sensitive zone. (HT FILE)

One of the Mumbai civic body’s most ambitious infrastructure projects — the Rs3, 800-crore Goregaon-Mulund Link Road (GMLR) — has inched closer to reality.

According to a source, the Union environment ministry’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) has delisted the project in a meeting on Thursday. This means that the GMLR, which involves building twin tunnels of three lanes each under the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, an ecologically-sensitive zone, will no more require environment clearance. The move has left environmentalists fuming. “This is dilution of the powers of committee that was supposed to protect and preserve the environment. The entire concentration is on development at the cost of environment. But this new order will be challenged,” said Stalin D, environmentalist.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will now conduct the environment impact study for three months. According to the BMC’s submission to the MoEF, the civic body had asked for a rapid environmental impact assessment (EIA) and had said that the link road is important as it will cut travel time between Goregaon and Mulund by an hour and also considerably reduce congestion on the Western Express Highway (WEH).

Earlier, the Union environment ministry had asked BMC to conduct an EIA study in not less than 12 months, or three seasons. This had derailed the civic body’s plan to finish the impact assessment study within six months and submit it for approval. The expert appraisal committee had also asked for noise and vibration impact study specific to the burrowing fauna and nocturnal fauna in SGNP also to be conducted over three seasons and not less than 12 months. With delisting of the project the above study will also stand cancelled.

Following the order in October, BMC had since then thrice re-submitted the proposal for the committee to reconsider the order. The project came up before the MoEF’s expert appraisal panel on industrial areas, Special Economic Zones (SEZs), roads and highways on April 12. The minutes of the meeting are yet to be released.

To kick-start the construction of 5.96 km of GMLR, BMC will now need only two clearances — one from the state’s Forest Department and the National Wildlife Board as the road is passing through an eco-sensitive zone.

To implement the project, BMC will need to divert 21.5 hectare of forest land, which would be the area of the tunnel under the national park. The project will also involve the chopping of 625 trees.

First Published: Apr 13, 2018 10:01 IST