UPDATE: 1. The Environment Ministry has given the green signal for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train to go ahead.
2. The implementation agency has asked the Indian authorities to increase compensation to those (particularly farmers) who will be displaced as a result of the project.
The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has given the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) a clearance on its proposal to go ahead with the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. This means the latter has been given a thumbs up to raze an estimated 150,000 plus mangroves along the coastal belts of Thane, Navi Mumbai and Palghar. As things stand, the files have been moved to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Climate Change (MoEFCC) for a final nod.
It is estimated that this project will adversely impact 131.30 hectares of forest area, including 150,752 mangroves spread over 32.43 hectares. Plus a part of the proposed project falls under the protected area and eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
All of this despite, the fact that the Bombay High Court has very recently ordered the protection of mangroves and wetlands saying: “The destruction of mangroves offends the fundamental rights of the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In view of the provisions of Articles 21, 47, 48A and 51A(g) of the Constitution of India, it is a mandatory duty of the State and its agencies and instrumentalities to protect and preserve mangroves.”
This project will impact the leopards, and all the forest species in SGNP and also the migratory visitors - the flamingos. In addition, it will wipe out 150,000 plus mangroves, which serve as a nursery for juvenile fish and slow down the waves from the sea, thereby protecting the shoreline.
This turn of events has been a complete surprise given that only late last year, the MCZMA had mentioned to the court that it could not allow the mangroves to be cut down for this project.
While a number of organisations and individuals have raised an alarm, we as citizens of India urge you to ensure this project does not see the light of day.