Neta crossing: Animals at Sanjay Gandhi National Park better watch out!

Updated: Jan 31, 2019, 09:37 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Over 10 corporators have sought permission to use an internal road in the park, to help them reach the BMC on time for work; Park director says not possible

Neta crossing: Animals at Sanjay Gandhi National Park better watch out!
Sena corporator Riddhi Khursunge had written a letter to Mayor on January 18 requesting his intervention

In an obviously harebrained idea, some politicians have sought permission to use an internal road in Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), to help them reach the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) headquarters on time. In an equally ill-thought of action, Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar has decided to take up this issue with the BMC commissioner, who will discuss it with Forest Department officials for approval.

While work is on in full swing on the metro etc to make commuting easier in future, over 10 corporators (across parties) feel the only way to reach the BMC on time today, is by using a road that passes through the core area of SGNP. They intend to take the Eastern Express Highway and Eastern Freeway after that. Wildlife activists and nature lovers feel this should not be allowed.

As per an RTI, in 2017, eight animals were killed on this road
As per an RTI, in 2017, eight animals were killed on this road

HC order against use
Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) and SGNP Director Anwar Ahmed said, "A few corporators had requested us in the past that we should allow them to use the internal road. But this cannot be allowed as it passes through the core area of SGNP, a national park. The Bombay High Court has also ordered that no one should be allowed to use the internal roads. Also there is frequent activity of wild animals in the core area, and if vehicles are allowed, animals can meet with accidents. In the larger interest of wildlife we will not be able to allow anyone to use the internal road." The internal road goes from Tulsi lake to an exit from SGNP at Bhandup.

Shiv Sena corporator Riddhi Khursunge had written a letter to Mayor Mahadeshwar on January 18, requesting him to take up the issue with the BMC. Sources from SGNP also told mid-day that around two weeks back many corporators had met SGNP authorities and discussed the same.

Stuck in traffic
"The corporators staying at Borivli, Dahisar and Magathane said they get stuck in traffic on the Western Express Highway, S V Road and Link Road due to the ongoing metro construction, and it takes them more than 3 hours to reach BMC, and sometimes they miss important meetings. They said the only temporary solution to the problem is that they be allowed to use the internal road of SGNP. They can exit at Bhandup and then take the Eastern Express Highway and the Eastern Freeway to reach BMC headquarters. This cannot be allowed. More people will come to us requesting the same," said an FD official.

Mahadeshwar said, "Corporators of all parties had given a letter to me saying they should be allowed to use the internal road of SGNP for important meetings scheduled at BMC headquarters. We discussed this topic today and it has been decided that the municipal commissioner will write to the Forest Secretary seeking approval."

Experts speak
Conservationist and President of the NGO Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT), Anish Andheria said, "All national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are in wildlife spaces and should be maintained as that. No public transport facility can be allowed through the park even if there are roads that were built many years ago through the park."

A member of River March Group, Gopal Zhaveri said, "The corporators who have made this demand should understand that SGNP is a forest, and even ambulances are not allowed to use the internal roads, so why should they be? If the corporators feel that they have a very important meeting to attend, then they should travel by train which is the best option. The corporators should understand they are public representatives."

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