Mumbai: Environmental concerns send ferry service into troubled waters

May 10, 2018, 07:49 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

MoEF committee asks Thane civic body to prepare an Environment Impact Assessment report for its ambitious inland passenger ferry connecting Vasai-Mira-Bhayander with Kalyan via Vasai creek and Ulhas river

Thanekars (and others), you will have to wait longer for the inland passenger ferry connecting Vasai-Mira-Bhayander with Kalyan via Vasai creek and Ulhas river. Putting Thane Municipal Corporation's (TMC's) Rs 500-crore ambitious project on pause, the Experts Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests has asked the civic body to prepare an Environment Impact Assessment report as the route falls under an eco-sensitive zone, of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary and Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary. TMC's proposal was discussed during the committee's 30th meeting on April 18.

Grand plans
As per its plan, TMC wants to develop the water transport service at a total cost of R511 crore to ease congestion in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and reduce stress on land environment. It is the nodal agency for development of inland water transportation in Vasai creek-Ulhas river (National Waterway 53), which will include passengers' roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) services along with associated facilities and amenities.

Jetties/terminals have been proposed at 10 locations in the MMR. Three types of terminals are proposed along the 54-km route from Vasai to Kalyan. Some of the passenger jetties are designed to handle Ro-Ro vessels, which carry passengers as well as vehicles. The proposal also states that the average travel time between Vasai and Kalyan, including boarding and alighting, will be 70 minutes, and once operational, the project will reduce environmental pollution, create job opportunities and save commuting time by shifting load from congested roads to waterways.

The concerns
The minutes of the EAC meeting, in mid-day's possession, state that the agency (TMC) that has submitted the proposal should study the impact of dredging on the shoreline. "Environmental impact of hard-rock dredging, both in terms of hydrology, sedimentology and biodiversity, shall be studied. Alternative methods would be suggested. The project proponents would present in detail the environmental impact on the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the Thane Creek Wild Life Sanctuary and the Tungareshwar Wild Life Sanctuary. The impact of and on the project due to the Dombivli critically polluted area shall be presented along with the conformity of the project to the Dombivli critically polluted area action plan (sic)," state the minutes. The EAC has also suggested that the project proponent study the impact of dredging and dumping on marine ecology and draw up a management plan through the NIO or any other institute specialising in marine ecology.

Rs 511 cr
Total cost of the project

54 km
Distance between Vasai and Kalyan

70
Minutes the entire journey will take

10
Number of proposed jetties

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