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Mumbai: BMC plans to chop off 2000 mangrove trees to build bridges, while Aarey Metro car shed project is still stuck

Despite all due clearances, and a Supreme Court order, the MVA government halted the Aaerey Metro car shed project soon after coming to power, riding over a wave of activism that launched Aaditya Thackeray's career as a politician.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has planned to chop off nearly 2000 mangrove trees to make way for bridges in the Andheri and Malad region, as per a report in The Indian Express.

The report states that an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report for six bridges that have been planned by the BMC has been submitted to the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA). Recently, the MCZMA had cleared a proposal for one bridge that will require 48 trees to be cut. The Coastal Regulation Zone approval for 5 other bridges is pending.

The Indian Express report further states that the construction of all 6 bridges will be in the sensitive CRZ areas and over 1966 mangrove trees will have to be cut for the construction work. A patch of mangrove forest spread over 6.35 hectares will be impacted by the construction.

The BMC’s proposal was reportedly tabled before the MCZMA’s 157th meeting for consideration. The MCZMA reportedly asked the BMC to carry out the EIA for all the six planned bridges individually and asked to study the socio-economic impact of the structures on local fishermen by taking the consultation of the local communities.

The 6 bridges that are planned by the BMC are as follows, Madh to Versova Creek between Andheri and Malad, Marve to Manori in Malad, a bridge on Ramachandra Nullah in Evershine Nagar in Malad, Lagoon Road to Infinity Mall in Malad, Oshiwara River to Malad Creek, a bridge on Marve Road in Dharivali village.

The BMC had in 2021 appointed a consultant for the environmental impact study for the six planned bridges. As of now, the MCZMA had cleared only the proposed bridge on Ramachandra Nullah in Evershine Nagar. It had asked the BMC to get the clearance from the Bombay High Court for Mangrove cutting, promise five times afforestation and get due clearances from the forest department.

A report in the Hindustan Times on March 1 stated that the MCZMA has asked the BMC to seek alternate alignments for the proposed bridge network, adding that the current proposals will have a considerable negative impact on the mangroves.

These 6 bridges, along with another proposed bridge by the MMRDA connecting Borivali to Gorai, will eat up nearly 29.6 acres of mangroves, HT had reported earlier.

Aarey Metro car shed project is stuck

It is notable here that while the BMC and the Maharashtra government have no qualms about cutting trees and harming the mangrove forests that are crucial to the city, the Aarey Metro car shed project is stuck after the MVA government came to power. Despite all due clearances, and a Supreme Court order, the MVA government halted the project soon after coming to power, riding over a wave of activism that launched Aaditya Thackeray’s career as a politician.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led govt, in a vindictive order, had declared the Aarey area where the metro car shed was planned as ‘forest land’ and had shifted the facility to government land in Kanjurmarg. 

Even though the metro project will substantially improve the environment by removing lakhs of fossil fuel-guzzling vehicles from the roads, the project was opposed due to political reasons. The decision to shift the metro car shed from Aarey to Kanjurmarg will now increase the project’s cost by at least Rs 4,000 crore, which was estimated by a committee appointed by the current government. Further, the project will also be delayed by several years due to ongoing litigation and the condition of the new site.

A month after extreme activism by Shiv Sena to impress its coalition parties – Congress and NCP, Sena had exposed its hypocrisy by ordering the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation to chop down 1,000 trees for a Bal Thackeray memorial in Priyadarshini Park.

In January 2020, a committee set up by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in December had recommended lifting the stay on construction of the Mumbai Metro Line 3 car shed at Aarey Milk Colony. Reportedly, the committee has said that shifting the car shed site from Aarey would not be viable. 

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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