In April, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had withheld the clearance that was given to the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), which will connect Sewri with Nhava Sheva, as the project would have affected the present mangrove cover and flamingo habitat in the area.
The proposed project layout of the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link
Now the (MMRDA) Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority has informed the MoEF that all the necessary measures would be taken to protect the mangrove habitat, but changing the alignment of the MTHL is just not possible.
An MMRDA official dealing with the MTHL project said, “More than a month back, we sent our reply to the Forest Advisory Committee of the MoEF, in which we have explained in detail that we will be taking all necessary measures to make sure that no harm is caused to the mudflats, mangroves, and the habitat of flamingos and other creatures during the construction of MTHL.
The consultant who had prepared the plan of the MTHL had suggested the measures which we would be following. However, we have made it clear that shifting or making changes in the alignment is not possible at all as this would make the project unviable.”
In 2012, MMRDA had made changes in the design of the alignment, which had resulted in the project cost rising by Rs 300 crore. It also carried out discussions with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and other environmentalists who have raised concerns about damage to the ecology.
MTHL will have a negative impact but the project is also needed, and if proper mitigation measures are suggested then there won’t be any problem to mudflats and flamingoes that come to Sewri side. If the mudflats and the mangroves are protected, then the migratory birds will come. And so, the construction near the mudflat stretch should be done quickly, whenever the work begins - BNHS director Asad Rehmani had told mid-day in April