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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Tree felling for bullet train and metro projects to worsen Mumbai floods, say activists

According to the proposal, a total of 152 trees will be impacted for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project.

Written by Laxman Singh | Mumbai |
September 16, 2021 2:03:29 pm
Earlier, the Gardens department of BMC had issued public notices seeking suggestions for and objections to the proposal to fell and transplant trees for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. (Representational image)

Several activists and residents have opposed the proposal to fell and transplant trees for the bullet train and the Metro 7A line projects in the Maharashtra capital. A letter in this regard was signed by more than 300 citizens and sent to the Gardens department of the civic body on Wednesday.

Earlier, the Gardens department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had issued public notices seeking suggestions for and objections to the proposal to fell and transplant trees for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) and the Metro 7A line between Andheri East and Terminal 2 of the Mumbai International Airport.

According to the proposal, a total of 152 trees will be impacted for the bullet train project. Of which, 11 trees have been earmarked to be felled and 141 trees will be transplanted. Whereas the construction of the Metro 7A line will lead to the axing of 55 trees, another 84 trees will have to be transplanted for the metro project.

The implementing agencies – the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for the metro project – had approached the BMC seeking permission for the tree-felling exercise.

The letter sent to the BMC by the group of activists read: ‘The Bandra-Kurla Complex is already notorious for high air pollution. The removal of trees will further worsen the area’s air quality and increase flooding intensity as tree roots prevent flooding by absorbing water. The 3.2km-long Metro 7A line will connect Andheri East to the Mumbai Airport. For this small stretch, BEST bus routes should be strengthened instead.’

Activists also expressed their disappointment with the municipal corporation for providing a seven-day window to send suggestions and objections to the two public notices.

‘No email id was mentioned in the public notices for seeking suggestions and objections. Also, a small window of seven days was given to the public. We surely need an extension of the deadline till October 31 for the majority of the public to have their say on the issue. The removal of trees has a direct impact on climate change and health, and BMC cannot have such a casual approach towards public participation in the same,’ the letter sent to the Corporation stated.

The Garden departments had issued public notices for the two infrastructure projects on September 7 and the last date for submitting suggestions and objections was September 15.

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