India's first wildlife overpass would come up in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Mumbai and the Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS) in the adjoining Palghar district.
A bunch of projects are expected to pass from or around the SGNP and TWS including 10-lane Virar-Alibaug multimodal corridor, Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, Diva-Panvel rail line, Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor and a PWD road. The SGNP and TWS in the Mumbai metropolitan region (MMR) is home to over 50 leopards.
A sub-committee of the State Wildlife Board (SWB) has cleared the overpass project last week.
"The overpass going to be 30 metres wide. We have aligned the projects so that it does not cause disturbance to wildlife," said Kishor Rithe of Satpuda Foundation, who is a member of the sub-committee.
It may be recalled that while approving the bullet train project - that would pass through the SGNP, TWS and Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary - the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has asked the Maharashtra government and representatives of SGNP, TWS, Bombay Natural History Society, Satpuda Foundation, Wildlife Institute of India and Wildlife Conservation Trust for ensuring a wildlife corridor.
The SGNP, spread over 103 sq km, is a part of Western Ghats biodiversity and forms 20 per cent of Mumbai's geographical area. It is home to 254 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, 78 species of reptiles and amphibians,150 species of butterflies and over a staggering 1,300 species of plants. It also has two lakes - Vihar and Tulsi. The Kanheri caves, protected under Archaeological Survey of India too, is located within the SGNP.
The TWS, along with the Vasai-Virar township, is spread over 85 sq km and its biodiversity is similar to that of SGNP. It has beautiful streams making it a favourite place for monsoon treks near Mumbai. The Thane creek is home to several species of fish, crustaceans and over 150 species of birds and nine species of mangroves. It is home to about 40,000 flamingos.