Mumbai: Public consultation held on Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) project

In order that the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) project connecting Sewri with Nhava Sheva sees the light of the day , a public consultation was organized at Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development (MMRDA) head quarters at BKC on Tuesday morning.

More than 80people took art in the public consultation including activists. The majority of the people who took part in the pubic consultation were the expected project affected people and there were members from the fishermen community including men and women. Activists

Actvist Sumaira Abdulali from Awaaz Foundation said, " I was present during the public consultation and i told the officials that I support the stand that BNHS has already kept regarding the project and it states that proper mitigation measures should be taken during the constuction of bridge so that there is no negitive impact to the mudflats at Sewri which is also an import bird area."

In the past the MTHL has already been facing lot of issues related to environment and some NGOS have been demanding change in the alignment as they feel that the project might have a native impact at the mudflats in Serwi that is a habitat where flamingoes come every winter.

It should be noted that JICA has already started the Environment Impact Assessment study for the project and once the report is ready it would be kept in front of higher JICA authorities.As per the talks JICA would be funding 80 per cent of the project cost of the Rs 11 thousand crore MTHL project.

The construction of MTHL is crucial as it will not only save a lot of time and fuel of the motorists but it will also help in the development of MMR thus creating more job opportunities. The people who were present for the public consultation opposed the project staying that MMRDA in the past has not done proper rehabilitation of the PAPs.

MMRDA Additional Metropolitan Commissioner Sanjay Sethi along with other officers were also present and they told the people that the fisheries department would be asked to do a social survey during which the department would meeet the PAPs and fishermen community members and will see how the project would have an impact on their livelihood. Depending on the outcome of the survey the compensation would be decided.

MMRDA has been claiming that it is pro-environment and so all the necessary measures will be taken during the construction of MTHL so that there is minimum problem to the environment. Some people have been demanding that there should be a change in the alignment which according to the officials is not possible at all.

A leading NGO working in the field of environment in the past had opposed the MTHL as they feel that the alignment of the bridge is such that it will pass through the mudflats at Sewri exactly at the location where over 10,000 flamingos come every year.

The NGO had also claimed that this would cause huge disturbance during construction of the bridge in form of noise, air and water pollution and subsequent disturbance from the traffic and other “development” that might happen in the area, is likely to seriously jeopardize this crucial feeding ground of flamingos.

They had also demanded that MMRDA should shift the place of the bridge connector by another 700 meters; however the planning authority has made it clear that it cannot change the alignment. The Mumbai Trans Harbour Link connects Sewri in the island city to Nhava in Navi Mumbai.

The link is 22 km long with a 16.5 km longNbridge across Mumbai harbor and 5.5 km long viaduct approaches on the Sewri and Nhava sides. Interchanges are proposed at Sewri to connect to Eastern Freeway and at Chirle to connect to the NH 4B to facilitate traffic dispersal. The project involves construction of the longest sea bridge yet in the country.

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