Boost to bullet train as CZMPs for Navi Mumbai, Thane, Palghar

The Union government has cleared the Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMPs) for Thane, Palghar and Navi Mumbai. The order was issued on February 28 by W Bharat Singh, director Coastal Regulation Zone in the ministry of environment and forests.

The clearance, among other things, will ensure that the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project gets speedy go-aheads.

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited, which is spearheading the bullet train project, has been asking the state chief secretary, DK Jain, for speedy clearances for the project. Until now, the chief secretary would constantly tell them the clearances were held up as the coastal zone management plans for these three areas had not received clearances.

Nearly a fifth of the bullet train route passes through the Palghar district. Land acquisition is also a huge issue as more than 800 structures are coming in the way of the ambitious project and will have to be razed. The bullet train will consume 55 hectares and 62 hectares of forest land in Thane and Palghar districts, respectively. It is all set to claim 1,50,752 mangroves on 18.92 hectares of land in Maharashtra.

The proposal to cut the mangroves had been placed before the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority in August 2018.

The project did not get a green signal as the CZMP was not ready. The project has already got clearances from the National Board of Wildlife. The proposed bullet train has just four stations in Maharashtra – Bandra Kurla Complex, Thane, Virar and Boisar. The total length of the bullet train rout is 508.17 km, of which 155.64 km is in Maharashtra. The total length of alignment of project falling in CRZ in Maharashtra is 23.51 km. The alignment is proposed on an elevated viaduct and bridges and also has 26.91 km of tunnels.

There are a total of eight tunnels and the longest one is 20.71 km under Thane creek. The total length of the bridges in the project is 6.42 km and remaining alignment of 474.83 km is on viaducts.

The bullet train officials have been told to plant 753,764 mangrove trees on 94.62 hectares of land as compensatory afforestation. The site for this is yet to be selected.

Besides the bullet train, there are many other projects, including new residential projects, that were stuck up due to the delay in the clearance to the Coastal Zone Management Plans for Thane, Palghar and Navi Mumbai.

The CZMPs have been prepared as per the 2011 guidelines and the guidelines in 2019 will be included at a later stage.

D Stalin of the NGO Vanshakti said, “It is full of errors. Despite pointing the errors to the authorities concerned, no step was taken to rectify the mistakes. The builders’ lobby is the biggest beneficiary of these errors. Going ahead with this map means the shoreline of Thane, Palghar and Navi Mumbai will witness further flooding and erosion.’’

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