In a major setback to the BMC’s Goregaon-Mulund Link Road (GMLR) project, the forest department has denied permission to the civic body to dig pits to study the soil strata at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).
Officials said the BMC wanted the permission to dig holes to study the soil strata since it had proposed a 7-km tunnel through the SGNP as part of the project.
To avoid any unforeseen challenge during the construction of the tunnel, the BMC needs to drill bores at 20 to 25 places in the forest and analyse the soil strata, said an official from the bridges department of the civic body.
On June 6, the forest department wrote to the BMC and suggested using remote sensing technology, instead of digging bore tunnels.
“We have”asked BMC to use remote sensing imageries to understand geology and location of underground acquifers in SGNP and employ an institute of repute to develop and submit a feasibility report of a tunnel,” said Vik”s Gupta, Chief Conservator of Forest, Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
“They stated that the SGNP is a highly eco-sensitive area and use of machinery to drill bores may affect the movement of animals. They suggested that the civic body should do studies using the remote sensing technology after consulting with IIT Bombay,” said a senior BMC official.
The official added that IIT responded, saying the remote sensing technology would not help as it showed the nature of soil, up to a depth of 5 feet.
“The project will not affect the forest in any way. The proposed tunnel will be at least 20 metres below the ground as per the alignment. Since we now have the response from IIT, we will approach the state government on the issue,” the official added.
The 16-km GMLR project, estimated to cost Rs 1300 crore, will start from Oberoi Mall in Goregaon, pass through Film City, and end at Eastern Express Highway via Nahur railway station. The project is expected to improve the city’s east to west connectivity. It is likely to reduce the travelling time from Goregaon to Mulund by 15 to 20 minutes and will take at least three years to complete.
Last month, the BMC scrapped tenders of Rs 60 crore for phase one of the project after it was revealed that the contractors involved in the roads scam had bid for the project.