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Mumbai-Nagpur expressway gets green nod, but with riders

Two crucial phases, in which 1.32 lakh trees will be axed, get approval.

mumbai Updated: Jul 11, 2018 12:03 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
Mumbai-Nagpur expressway,green nod,Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis
(HT File Photo/Used for representational purpose)

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ pet project, the Mumbai-Nagpur super communication highway got a boost with the Centre’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) on infrastructure giving a green nod to majority of the project.

In its last meeting on June 25, the EAC gave a clearance to two crucial phases of the project — Part II and Part IV — spread across 337 km. Both the phases are sensitive as they will lead to a loss of green cover with more than 1.32 lakh trees getting hacked. The minutes of this meeting were issued on Tuesday.

While Part II of the project runs across 259 km in three districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada, Part V of the project covers 78 km in two districts of Nashik and Thane.

The minutes of the meeting (a copy is available with HT) point out that the alignment of Part II of the project also comes within the sensitive zone of two wildlife sanctuaries, Katepurna and Karanja Sohal.

The Part V alignment is within the eco-sensitive zone of another two sanctuaries, Tansa and Kalsubai Harishchandragad, and will divert 383 hectares of forest land.

“Out of the 701km of the highway, the alignment of 492km has got a green nod. The environment clearance is essential before the actual work can be undertaken,” said a senior MSRDC official, who did not want to be named.

In December last year, Part III of the project with road alignment of 155km had got permission.

The EAC had in April deferred the clearance for Part II of the project as it would have destroyed 1 lakh trees. The clearance comes with several riders for both the phases.

It was granted after the nodal authority for the project, Maharashtra State Road Development Authority (MSRDC) promised to replant 3,41,960 trees for cutting 1 lakh trees.

The MSRDC also gave an undertaking for a third party auditor for replantation exercise and an undertaking of having signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Wildlife Institute of India (WWI), Dehradun, to assess the impact of the project on wildlife and to recommend measures to mitigate the negative impact.

The other conditions in the green go-ahead are the trees replanted should include only native species with a special emphasis on big ficus trees such as banyan, peepul and cluster fig. The MSRDC has been asked to implement all recommendations made by WWI and submit a detailed report within three months to the Centre’s environment ministry.

First Published: Jul 11, 2018 11:00 IST