The BMC proposes to fell and transplant 811 additional trees in eastern parts of the city for the construction of the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road (GMLR). With this, the total number of trees to be affected by the project has reached 1,347.
In the last eight months, this is BMC’s third proposal on felling and transplanting trees for the project. According to the proposal, while 66 trees will be felled, 745 will be shifted to other places, as they are coming in the way of widening and construction of the link road between Airoli Junction on Eastern Express Highway and Tansa pipeline at Khindipada in Mulund West.
On November 12, the civic body had issued a notice inviting suggestions and objections from the people of Mumbai on the proposal. “The deadline for sending suggestions and objections got over on Wednesday. Now, these suggestions will be scrutinised before the proposal is sent to the Tree Authority for final approval,” said an official from BMC’s garden department.
In March, a public notice for felling and transplanting 154 trees between Oberoi Mall on Western Express Highway and Film City in Goregaon was published for residents’ suggestions and objections. On June 9, another public notice was issued for the felling and transplanting of 382 trees from Airoli junction to Tansa Pipeline at Khindipada in Mulund West.
Impact on SGNP
The GMLR project will also affect a reserved forest of about 19 hectare at SGNP in Borivali, as two tunnels will pass through the forest area. For this, the civic body will conduct compensatory afforestation in Chandrapur as a prerequisite to get permission from state forest department to construct a tunnel under SGNP.
The BMC plans a 13.65-km GMLR to ease traffic on Mumbai’s east-west connectors. It would be the fourth such connector in the city with the project costing Rs 6,225 crore. The existing road from Western Express Highway to Film City in Goregaon will be connected to Amar Nagar in Mulund West and further to Eastern Express Highway.
In 2014, the project had faced opposition from green activists and residents as it was passing through Aarey Milk Colony and required the felling of over 1,000 trees. Following protests, in 2016, the civic body changed the alignment of the project and decided to build a tunnel under the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) to protect the green cover in Aarey. Interestingly, at that time, officials had said that no trees will be felled for the project.
Tree activist Zoru Bhathena said that in many cases, trees that are not affected by a project are also felled. “In many cases, when we inspect, we find that trees not coming in the way of a project are also felled. This happens when the proposals come from BMC’s departments,” he added.
“Also, the BMC transplants these trees to some other locations while the tree Act clearly says that trees that comes in the way of road widening is required to be transplanted back to the site after the construction of the new road,” he said.
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