New Expressway to Vadodara to affect over 80,000 trees

Updated: 28 September, 2020 08:07 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Proposed 78-km stretch of Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway goes through a forest in 30 villages between Vasai and Talasari talukas; green bodies of both Centre and State examining plans

The current National Highway-48 is proving to be inadequate for the heavy traffic. Pic/Satej Shinde
The current National Highway-48 is proving to be inadequate for the heavy traffic. Pic/Satej Shinde

Of the 51 villages the 78-km Vasai-Talasari stretch of the Vadodara Mumbai Expressway (Phase-II) stands to affect, 30 villages consist of forests. The proposed right of way (ROW) in forests has 27,269 trees and in non-forest land it has at least 61,080 trees, bringing the total to 88,349.

The information was submitted by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to the Experts Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) last month.

"Out of 51 affected villages, there is a forest in 30 villages and there are 27,269 trees within the proposed ROW in the forest land. It may be noted that all trees within the proposed ROW may not be impacted. The average width of the work zone varies between 70 and 75 metres. Therefore, trees beyond the work zone may be saved," read the minutes of the EAC meeting last month.

A survey of 49 villages showed that around 61,080 trees fall in the proposed ROW on non-forest land, taking the total number of trees that may get affected to 88,349.

Eight-lane e-way

The NHAI, which is developing the eight-lane expressway, will need permissions from the Forest Department to chop the trees. Avenue plantation will be carried out as per the Indian Road Congress guidelines.

The expressway starts at Koshimb village, Vasai taluka and ends at Ibhadpada village, Talasari taluka. The state government, as part of its checks, is also currently examining the proposal.

The NH-48 is the only National Highway connecting Delhi to Mumbai.

According to NHAI, the present traffic exceeds the capacity of the six-lane highway and leads to congestion, increased pollution, vehicle operating costs and travel time. As per the proposal, widening is not viable.

Mangroves to be affected, too

The proposed project involves the diversion of 193.1777 hectares forest land. This land comprises 25.1597 hectares reserved forest, 3.9500 hectares mangroves, 136.5576 hectares protected forest and 27.5104 hectares private forest. Since the project also affects mangroves, the minutes of the EAC meeting also noted.

"The EAC, noted that the proponent does not have the approval of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority and therefore deferred the proposal for further consideration."

51
Total no. of villages proposed e-way to pass through

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First Published: 28 September, 2020 07:29 IST

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