Mumbai had set aside 224 hectares (ha) of mangroves as reserve forests. About 40 ha of these newly-protected areas are along the Mithi River, which is choked by illegal construction. Many other areas notified as reserved forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927, get better protection from destruction and encroachers.
Despite the protests by the environmentalists, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has decided to clear mangroves on a one-hectare (ha) plot at Bhakti Park in Wadala for the construction of an elevated station of the 32-km-long Wadala-Thane Metro line.
Ecologists have raised objection to the clearance and said regardless of adequate land available for building the station, the mangroves are being cut. In Wadala for construction of an elevated station of the 32-km-long Wadala-Thane Metro line.
MMRDA director (Works) Pramod Ahuja told Afternoon Voice, “We are using only this particular patch of mangroves on Metro Line 4. The Bombay High Court has granted us permission and all the other authorities. This plot has a very scanty mangrove cover. The forest department will also undertake the compensatory planting of trees on an area of land in order to recover green.”
Virendra Tiwari, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (mangrove protection cell) said, “We will be doing compensatory afforestation in our drives later.”
BN Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation said, “This appears to be a methodical, systematic conspiracy MMRDA destroy the mangroves, the act of destruction of mangroves appears to be picking up momentum as the Mangrove committee has given a final deadline to Mumbai, Thane and Raigad district collectors and CIDCO to transfer unreserved mangroves under their respective jurisdiction to the forest department, following NatConnect’s complaints,” Kumar said.
MMRDA assured the court it will restore the temporary area to its original condition once the construction is completed, and abide by the Union ministry’s conditions for approving the proposal. MMRD has argued apart from providing eco-friendly transportation, the Metro Rail project is also expected to reduce emission, improve traffic conditions in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, and save precious fuel.
Environmentalists have raised objection to the clearance and said despite adequate land available for building the station, the mangroves are being cut.
Environmentalist D Stalin of NGO Vanashakti said, “The BEST depot and truck terminal in Wadala have more than adequate space where a station can come up. This is completely unnecessary in our opinion. The non-mangrove wetland areas in the region were earlier handed over to private developers and now they are going after mangrove areas too.”
Mumbai Metro Line 4 from Wadala to Kasarvadavali is a 32-km-long elevated corridor with 32 stations. The Rs 14,500-crore project is expected to provide interconnectivity among the existing Eastern Express Roadway, Central Railway, Monorail, and the ongoing Metro lines.