The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) will now be saved from at least one infrastructure project after the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) decided to not construct the Virar-Alibaug Multimodal Corridor (VAMC) through it.
“We are considering an alternative route for the corridor and now both the elevated corridor and the underground tunnel will not go through SGNP. This will not increase the length of the route but with this we will not have to seek forest clearances,” said Sanjay Khandare, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA.
After the Wildlife Committee asked MMRDA to consider an alternate route for the corridor, the MMRDA had decided last month to not construct the elevated corridor through the park. While the committee had approved the construction of the tunnel through the park, it has now been decided to take the entire alignment out of the park.
Meanwhile, the change in alignment has delayed the submission of the Detailed Project Report (DPR).
“It was to be submitted last month but we had to incorporate this new change in alignment. It will now be submitted by the end of the month,” added Khandare.
The MMRDA had earlier sought six hectares of land in the park for the construction of the corridor. However, MMRDA still has plans to construct a ropeway connecting Borivali with Thane over SGNP.
“Ideally nothing should be constructed within the National Park, but if there is no alternative underground tunnel is a better option. So we had allowed MMRDA to construct underground. But if MMRDA has now decided to not construct inside the park it is great and other agencies should also learn from this and try to avoid constructing within the park limits,” said Anish Andheria, a member of the Wildlife Committee.
The project will be constructed in two phases, phase 1, 98.5-km highway between Navghar and Balavali and phase 2, 29.9-km from Balavali to Alibaug.
The cost of construction from Navghar to Balavali is expected to be Rs 22,300 crore of which civil cost will be around Rs 14300 crore and the cost of acquiring land will be Rs 8,000 crore.
Last month Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis approached the World Bank seeking financial assistance of Rs 14,000 crore for the project.