Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai could lose 95 football fields of forest cover to 8 projects
Mumbai city news: Environmentalists said the projects were being sanctioned without considering the importance of protecting the environment.mumbai Updated: Jul 10, 2017 07:27 IST
Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) stands to lose 189 acres to eight proposed infrastructure projects that will run through the protected forest area.
The size of an average football field is 1.72 acres. This means Mumbai is likely to lose forest cover the size of 95 football fields as a fall out of these development projects.
SGNP officials are yet to decide on the remaining three proposed projects– cable propelled transit system (ropeway) that will connect Borivli with Thane and pass over SGNP, the Thane Municipal Corporation’s (TMC) proposed road at south of SGNP that will strip the park of 64.24 acres and a residential-cum-commercial project with a Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) building after removing encroachments from one end of the park.
Goregaon-based activist Sainath Patil, who has been following the developments, compiled the list of projects as a part of a report. “The state government is giving more importance to projects that will destroy the forest,” he said. “As these projects creep into SGNP, the adjacent vegetation will start deteriorating, directly affecting the habitat of the animals living within the park’s boundary.”
Adding that there already exist a number of encroachments within the SGNP periphery, Patil said, “Since it is a forest, there should not be any other activity that can pose a potential danger to its harmony. A comparison of satellite images from 2000 and 2017 clearly shows how rocks and soil have been mined from hills that fall under SGNP’s forest cover. Cutting into them has resulted into widespread destruction of tree cover.”
Environmentalists said the projects were being sanctioned without considering the importance of protecting the environment. “Officials from the Thane forest and SGNP are actively contributing to the destruction of this national park. Land is being given away at the slightest pretext with anyone and everyone getting a share of the pie,” said Stalin D, director, NGO Vanashakti. “We are investigating the removal of vital areas belonging to the national park, which was done to suit vested interests.”
While SGNP officials confirmed that all projects on the list were in the pipeline, they said that the three projects yet to be sanctioned required environment impact assessment (EIA) reports. “Our pet project like the parking lot will decongest areas around the national park, bringing down air pollution levels. Majority of the projects were sanctioned by the Centre after carrying out studies to ensure that the environment is not adversely affected,” said Anwar Ahmed, director and chief conservator of forest, SGNP.