Mumbai Metro Line-2-B is a 23.64 km long elevated corridor that will have 22 stations. The corridor will reduce travel time between the eastern and western suburbs by 40 to 55 minutes. It will result in a 30 to 35℅ consequent reduction in vehicular traffic. The bench took into consideration the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority’s November 2018 clearance for the construction in the mangroves forest and the Union environment ministry’s approval for it in January.
MMRDA moved to the court after the latter in September 2018 held that the permission could not be granted for the destruction of mangroves unless the work is necessary for the public good or is in the public interest. It said about 111 square meters of forestland were permanently required for the construction of the six piers. About 1,860 square meters area around the piers was needed temporarily to enable their construction.
The bench of Justice SJ Kathawalla and Justice Madhav Jamdar said last week while giving the go-ahead. “We are convinced that the Metro Line 2-B project is carried out in public interest,”
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.
Mumbai has 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. Other forests that have received protection are in Charkop, Vikhroli and Versova, locations that are threatened by encroachers. The latest notification brings the total mangrove forests under protected status to 3,948 ha — almost 40 square km. Areas notified as reserved forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927, get better protection from destruction and encroachers.