Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project: Fresh survey says 32K, not 54K, mangroves to be axed
In yet another revision since 2018, the number of mangrove trees that will be lost due to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail (bullet train) project has been revised. According to the state forest department, the latest assessment found 32,044 trees will be axed across 9.8 hectares, which is 21,423 less than the figure released last week.
The most recent figure comes after a site visit by a team appointed by the Central government. “While the alignment cannot be changed, the team from the government of India suggested that the location of one of the stations in Thane (Mhatardi) be altered to save a large number of mangrove trees. Based on this, the station has been proposed slightly away from the original site, which freed up the mangroves,” said Jitendra Ramgaonkar, deputy conservator of forest, Thane.
The latest calculation comes a week after the state government was widely criticised by environmentalists after it told the Assembly that at least 54,000 mangroves would be lost for the project. In December 2018, after National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) submitted its proposal before the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), the loss had been pegged at 1,50,752 mangroves across 18.92 hectares.
Ramgaonkar said there was a difference between the latest assessment and the figure given by the state in the Assembly because a detailed phase-wise sampling study was not carried out when NHSRCL drew up its proposal. “The sampling methodology gave a significantly higher number as almost 4,000 to 5,000 trees per hectare were estimated,” said Ramgaonkar. “Since NHSRCL was willing to carry out large scale compensatory plantation, the proposal was forwarded, he said. The NHSRCL had previously said it was willing to plant five times the number of mangroves affected by the corridor. The success rate of replanting mangroves is unclear. While NHSRCL refused to comment on the matter, the state agency confirmed that the final figure for loss of mangroves was 32,044 trees. The ₹1.08 lakh-crore bullet train project spans a corridor of 508 km, of which 155.76 km falls within Maharashtra and 23.5km are in the state’s CRZ areas.