Bullet train affecting flamingo zone, leopard area

NGOs and experts are up in arms against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project, The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Project (MAHSR), popularly known as the bullet train project. (PTI File Photo)

NGOs and experts are up in arms against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project, The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Project (MAHSR), popularly known as the bullet train project.

This comes after reports surfaced that the National Board of Wildlife, chaired by Union Minister for Wildlife, Forests and Climate Change Harsh Vardhan, in January 2019, accorded wildlife clearance to the bullet train project which passes through the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary (TCFS) and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

The TCFS is home to thousands of flamingos while the 103-sq km SGNP is home to about 40-45 leopards— it has the highest leopard density in the world.

Environment groups 'The Nature Connect' and 'Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishtan' (SEAP) have floated an online petition to Modi seeking to drop the idea of damaging the bio-diversity in the areas.

“We are not at all against the ambitious infrastructure projects being launched by the government and private sector, should they come at the cost of the environment,” The Nature Connect's director and activist B N Kumar asked.

“We have also written to the Bombay High Court-appointed Mangrove Monitoring Committee to look into the issue and take appropriate steps to check damage to wetlands and mangroves,” he said.

Kumar has also filed an RTI application to Harsh Vardhan's ministry seeking details of the environment impact assessment of the project.

SEAP head Nandakumar Pawar said that the Mumbai Metro Project has been causing havoc to the Aarey Forest, the NMSEZ, JNPT SEZ and NHAI, CIDCO projects have ruined mangroves and wetlands in Uran and the Sion-Panvel Highway expansion has eaten into the mangroves along side.

JNPT was penalised by the High Court-appointed State Mangrove Monitoring Committee for killing mangroves, he added.

The Navi Mumbai International Airport is being built by throwing all environment considerations to the winds by flattening the hills, diverting rovers and destroying mangroves. The Parsik Hills in Navi Mumbai have been plundered beyond limits in the name of quarrying for stone chips for infra project, he said.

“Now comes yet another highly disturbing report that a clearance has been given to the bullet train to pass through the flamingo haven and forest lands of Sanjay Gandhi National Park,” Pawar said.

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