The Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) project that will connect Sewree in Mumbai with Nhava Sheva in Raigad district may be delayed further. On Tuesday, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) asked the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to submit a proposal regarding MTHL to the State Wildlife Board. The final MoEF environmental clearance will happen only if the state wildlife board gives its approval.
The current alignment of the bridge will make it pass through the mudflats at Sewree exactly at the location where over 10,000 flamingos come every year. File pic
Metropolitan Commi-ssioner UPS Madan said, “Our officials had a meeting with the MoEF authorities in New Delhi and they have asked us to first submit the MTHL proposal to the State Wildlife Board. Once it approves the proposal, it would go to MoEF and they will clear it."
The meeting was regarding diversion of 47 hectares of mangrove forest that would have to make way for the MTHL project. “Once the proposal is accepted we would develop a forest of more than the size of the area of the mangrove forest that is getting affected. The patch that would be developed will be a boon to migratory birds including flamingoes as the forest that we would be developing is near the flamingo sanctuary area that was demarcated by the government a few months back,” said another MMRDA official.
Another MMRDA official who did not wish to be named said, “The project will now get delayed by more than eight months and this would also result in cost escalation."
A few NGOs have been demanding a change in the alignment of MTHL as they feel that the project might have a negative impact on the mudflats in Sewree that is a habitat where flamingoes come every winter. MMRDA has made it clear that there would be no change in the alignment.
MMRDA has been claiming that all the necessary measures will be taken during the construction of the MTHL so that there is minimum impact on the environment.
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 Sewree exactly at the location where over 10,000 flamingos come every year.
The NGO had also claimed that the commotion during construction of the bridge and subsequent disturbance from the traffic in the area, is likely to seriously jeopardise this crucial feeding ground of flamingos.