Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, May 29 2017
State government officials said that 33.17 hectares (ha) — almost four times the size of Oval Maidan (9 ha) in south Mumbai — of reserved mangrove forests will be axed to build the northern portion of the coastal road project.
The mangrove cover in suburban Mumbai is spread across 3,723 ha, with 2,288 ha in the eastern suburbs and the rest in the western suburbs between Bandra and Borivli. The city will lose nearly 1% of its mangrove cover to the project.
Construction of the 29.2-km-long costal road, worth Rs 12,000 crore, has been planned in two phases. The southern portion — from Princess Street flyover to Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL). The second phase is from BWSL to Kandivli.
Sources from the state government said mangroves in Malwani,Oshiwara, Malad, Dahisar, Juhu, Versova, Kandivli and Borivli will be cut down once the construction begins.
“Malwani will lose most of the mangrove cover, almost 8 ha. However, reforestation and replantation of mangrove saplings will be done for the entire cover that Mumbai will lose,” said a senior official from state environment department.
Last year, to speed up the approval process from the state and the Centre, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) sought separate clearances for the project by dividing it into phase I and phase II. The union environment ministry gave its nod for phase I in April. The BMC had received flak from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) last year, as phase II would require large-scale reclamation of land for which mangroves would be chopped.
|“We are trying to figure out the environmental impact of phase II. Mitigation measures have been drafted and a disaster management plan has been put together. However, until we don’t fully understand the impact, the proposal will not be forwarded to the Centre,” said a senior civic official.|
The official added that one of the conditions that the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had laid out while clearing phase I included restoration of mangroves. “The state mangrove cell will be receiving Rs106 crore or 2% of the funds for phase I of the project,” he said.
Officials from the state mangrove cell said while they are yet to receive the money, mangrove plantation has already commenced. “A 200 ha patch in Airoli has been planted with mangrove saplings. We will ensure that the patch grows into a mangrove forest by next year,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.
The coastal road will also have a sea-bridge between Bandra and Versova, which will be built by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC). According to the BMC, the project needs reclamation of 186 ha of land, of which 91 ha will be developed as green space.