Yogesh Naik, Mumbai Mirror, May 29 2017
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which is the nodal agency for the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) project, has received clearances to take over nearly 47 hectares of mangrove land.
“We have already received the clearances. We will be doing the compensatory afforestation in the Raigad side. We have received a final go ahead to start work,” said MMRDA commissioner U P S Madan, who added that work on the project will begin later this year.
According to the project plan, most of the affected patch will be on the Sewree side which is home to thousands of migratory flamingos every year.
The move has, however, not gone down well with environmental activists. “We are not against development. But what I don’t understand is why the government is after development which will affect the migratory pattern of birds. The pace at which development is being pursued leaves you wondering whether there will be any resources for tomorrow,” said Harish Pandey, environmentalist with the New Link Road Residents Forum.
D Stalin of NGO Vanashakti said, “With every passing day, it is becoming more and more evident that trees and mangroves are being treated as disposable items. They are being looked at as if they can be transferred from point A to Point B without any environmental repercussions. This highlights the ig norance and insensitivity of the system.”
According to the project details, MMRDA will have to spend Rs 335 crore as part of a `Environment Management Programme’.
Of this money, the government will have to pay Rs 75 crore as compensation to the fishing community. An amount of Rs 45 crore will be used to install a noise barrier for the project. The MMRDA will also have to deposit Rs 25 crore as seed money to a mangrove fund in addition to Rs 25 crore marked as part of for compensatory mangrove restoration plan. The total project cost is estimated to be Rs 17,700 crore.
“It’s a choice between the mangrove forest, flamingos on one side and the bridge on the other,” said a former MMRDA commissioner.