Goregaon-Mulund Link Road to eat up 1.5ha of salt pans
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s ambitious project, the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road (GMLR), part of which will run under the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), is also going to eat up 1.5 hectares of salt pans in the eastern suburbs. This is an area equivalent to the Wankhede Stadium.
“Our design for the GMLR project does involve using a small portion of salt pans. We are co-ordinating with the Central government to be able to use this piece of salt pan and have written a letter to the salt commissioner,” said Praveen Pardeshi, municipal commissioner.
According to a report prepared by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) in 2016, salt pans protect the city from floods as they comprise shallow depressed areas that hold sea water.
Earlier, the BMC in its Development Plan 2034, provided for 721 hectares of salt pans to be developed, of which 130 hectares will be used to construct affordable homes.
According to the BMC, the salt pan for the GMLR is located at Airoli Naka in Mulund and will be needed for the landing point of the project’s ramp on the Mulund side. The GMLR project is a mixture of twin tunnels and elevated roads. The twin tunnels of 4.7km and 4.6km, which will run 20m and 220m below SGNP, are connected to elevated roads on either side. The GMLR project aims to improve east-west connectivity in the suburbs, for which the BMC has got response from firms in Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong and other places. Stakeholders will draft the design and methodology to construct the tunnels.
A BMC official said, “We will require around 1.5 hectares, which is around 15,000 square metres, for constructing a ramp.”
“Salt pans were used even for the existing toll naka. For GMLR, a small portion of land will be used. Also, there is no salt production happening in this belt,” he added.
Apart from this, BMC officials said several trees also will be required to be cut for the GMLR project on the Goregaon and Mulund side in the non-forest area, but the number of trees to be cut for the same is not decided yet.
The debate over environment conservation recently resulted in a war of words between the Shiv Sena and BJP after the Sena had opposed the cutting of over 2,000 trees in Aarey Colony for the Colaba-Seepz Metro-3 corridor, citing it as a threat to ecology.
However, the BJP has been claiming that several projects of BMC itself does require reclamation, like for Coastal Road, along with GMLR, and two dams, Gargai and Pinjal, where 1,500 hectares of forest land are going to be diverted.
Meanwhile, Abhijit Samant, a BJP corporator said, “It is not about Metro or Coastal Road, but we should understand that for every project, there is going to be some sort of environmental diversion. For this, every agency tries to ensure there is minimal damage.”