32,000 Trees Felled, 9,000 More in Jeopardy for Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway

Naomi Pandya Posted on: 2024-03-26 09:30:00 Viewer: 2,347 Comments: 0 Country: India City: New Delhi

32,000 Trees Felled, 9,000 More in Jeopardy for Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway

New Delhi, India (Urban Transport News): In a concerning development, approximately 32,000 trees have been axed, with an additional 9,000 at risk, to pave the way for the Mumbai-Vadodara highway project led by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

The proposed highway, linking Vadodara in Gujarat to Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Maharashtra’s Raigad district, threatens extensive deforestation, targeting over 39,000 trees across Palghar, Thane, and Raigad districts of Maharashtra, as reported by Hindustan Times.

NHAI's response to a Right to Information (RTI) query reveals that the project necessitates 2,242 hectares of land for the highway's Maharashtra segment, including 304 hectares of forested land. Nearly 2,100 hectares have already been acquired. Despite promises of compensatory afforestation, the planned felling of 39,132 trees, encompassing forested areas, has triggered concerns among environmentalists.

Permission has already been granted to fell 13,763 trees in forested regions and 18,961 trees in non-forest areas.

In addition to the loss of greenery, the project entails the demolition of 3,086 residences, 48 religious structures, and 185 large warehouses, exacerbating the environmental impact, according to the report.

Palghar district, known for its verdant landscapes and rich biodiversity, faces substantial repercussions from this development. With existing infrastructure projects like the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Bullet Train and the Vadhavan port near Dahanu already straining the district, the highway's construction threatens to further diminish its green cover.

Anshumali Srivastava, NHAI's chief general manager, assured compensatory afforestation, stating that funds have been deposited with the Maharashtra forest department. However, environmental activist D. Stalin from NGO Vanshakti criticized the relentless encroachment on the state's forests and habitats, emphasizing the irreparable ecological loss.

The Union Road & Transport Ministry argues that completing the project will alleviate congestion leading to Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Maharashtra’s largest container port. NHAI is also constructing a tunnel beneath Matheran hill station to connect to JNPA.

Anshumali Shrivastava reiterated NHAI's commitment to the project's completion, projecting the Maharashtra stretch to be operational by May 2025 and the 3.5-km tunnel under Matheran to be ready by March 2025. He also outlined plans for an eight-lane highway with amenities like fuel stations and eateries every 50 kilometers.





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