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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Pune-Mumbai expressway missing link project ‘cuts’ through 5,300 trees

MSRDC officials have pledged to plant 48,000 trees to compensate for the loss

pune Updated: Nov 19, 2019 14:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
 The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) Limited will be cutting 5,300 trees for the construction of a 13.3 kilometre bypass road between Khopoli and Kusgaon on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway.
 The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) Limited will be cutting 5,300 trees for the construction of a 13.3 kilometre bypass road between Khopoli and Kusgaon on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. (HT/FILE PHOTO)
         

 The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) Limited will be cutting 5,300 trees for the construction of a 13.3 kilometre bypass road between Khopoli and Kusgaon on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. The project is also known as the missing link project. However, the corporation has pledged to plant 48,000 trees along the entire stretch of the expressway in the form of compensation for the felling of trees.  

SB Dhote, chief engineer of MSRDC, said, “In lieu of the 5,300 trees which will be cut on the e-way stretch, we are planting 48,000 trees along the entire stretch of the expressway. Additionally, we will be providing 70 hectares of compensatory afforestation land in Jalna district. The money required for planting trees there has been deposited with the forest department already.”

Mukund Kirdat, city activist, said, “On paper, they say these things, but they fail to implement it. Even if they plant saplings, the maintenance of these trees is a major issue. There should be a heavy fine/penalty if they fail to keep the promises made.”

The current stretch of Pune-Mumbai Expressway between Khopoli exit on the Yashwantrao Chavan Expressway and Sinhgad Institute is at least 19-20 km long. “This distance will be reduced to 13.3 km after the construction of the missing link project. So, the total length of the expressway from Pune to Mumbai will reduce by 6km and travel time will be reduced by 20-25 minutes,” reads the project description by MSRDC. 

The project will ensure that the existing six lanes on the stretch are turned into eight lanes. The entire stretch of 13.3 km will be divided into two tunnels - one of 1.75 km and the other of 8.92 km - and two bridges (viaducts) of 790m and 650m; all of which will have eight lanes. 

Starting from Khalapur, a six-lane five-kilometre stretch will be augmented into eight lanes, followed by 790 metres of viaduct-1, then tunnel 1 of 1.75km, then viaduct-2 of around 700-800 metre, and finally the tunnel of 8.92 km, according to Dhote.

“Most trees that will be cut are in viaduct-2. The actual measurements took place only now and the original length of 650 metres has increased by at least 150-200 metres,” said Dhote. 

When the project was approved, the cost of the project was estimated to be at least Rs 4,797.57 crore. 

A cabinet sub-committee of infrastructure had approved the proposal on June 13, 2017. A government resolution to that effect was passed by the Maharashtra government on November 24, 2017. 

The environment clearance for the project was granted by the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) in a meeting held on August 24, 2018. While a company called Navayuga Engineering Corporation Limited was awarded the tender for the tunnels, a company called Afcons Infrastructure Limited was awarded the tender for the two viaducts.

Clearing green cover to control traffic

Project so far

To solve the problem of traffic snarls on the stretch between Lonavla and Khopoli of the Pune-Mumbai Expressway, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) decided to construct a 13.5km bypass between Khalapur toll plaza and Kusgaon. The project is also called as the ‘missing link’ project.

June 13, 2017: A cabinet sub-committee of infrastructure approved the proposal

November 24, 2017: A government resolution to that effect was passed by the Maharashtra government

August 24, 2018: The environment clearance for the project was granted by the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority

Tenders awarded: Navayuga Engineering Corporation Limited awarded the tender for the tunnels, while a company called Afcons Infrastructure Limited was awarded the tender for the two viaducts.

Raigad collectorate has give the Forest Rights Act (FRA) certificate to the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) recently

Trees to be cut

-5,300 trees to be cut for the construction of the ‘missing link project’ for the construction of bypass

Compensation: What PMC says

-MSRDC has pledged to plant 48,000 trees along the entire stretch of the expressway to compensate for the loss

-Additionally, MSRDC will provide 70 hectares of compensatory afforestation land in Jalna district. The money required for planting trees there has been deposited with the forest department already, say, officials.