The underpass will serve as a bridge to allow animals to cross safely

Following the Ministry of Environment and Forest's (MoEF) insistence that wildlife experts examine all road projects passing through eco-sensitive zones, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has decided to alter plans for the wildlife crossings, along the proposed Mumbai-Nagpur Express Super Communication Expressway.

According to sources, the project alterations were made after experts within the state forest department proposed changing the locations of the wildlife crossings along the expressway, which will intersect three wildlife sanctuaries in the state, including Tansa in the Thane district.

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Confirming the same, Kiran Kurundakar, joint managing director from MSRDC said, "We have already approached the state forest department with the alignment plan and they have asked us to make changes in the locations of the underpasses. Based on the suggestions from the experts, necessary changes will be made."

The revised proposal will then be placed before the state wildlife board and National Board of Wildlife for approval, added Kurundakar.

As per the proposal, the expressway was to pass close to three wildlife sanctuaries -- Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary in the Thane district, and Karanja and Katepurna in the Washim district of Amravati. The underpass will serve as a bridge to allow animals to cross safely.

In the last 25 years, over 40 leopards have died in road accidents near Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli alone, a study had found Citing the imminent dangers that speeding vehicles on the new expressway could pose to wildlife, MoEF had asked MSRDC to take suggestions of wildlife experts before going ahead with the project.

Apart from new locations for the crossings, the road width of the expressway will also be less than 90 metres in areas near the forest zone, said an MSRDC official.

The Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway, which is expected to be ready in the next seven years, will reduce the travel time between the two cities from 16 hours to a mere eight hours.

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