With at least 900 trees on the block, activists question report that says region has only snakes and rabbits; claim that the area has other wildlife like boars, mongoose and civets
The proposed third line between Kalyan and Kasara will require 16.6846 ha of forest. File Pic/Atul Kamble
- The proposal’s information on the area’s wildlife has shocked environmentalists
- The line passes through the default Eco-Sensitive Zone of Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary
- The third railway line would require the diversion of 16.6846 hectares of forest land
While a third line between Kalyan and Kasara may be good news for commuters on the Central Railway (CR), the project will involve the hacking of over 900 trees in a forest area. Furthermore, to the shock of environmentalists and wildlife conservationists, the proposal submitted by the CR to MOEF&CC (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change) mentions snakes and rabbits as the only wildlife found in an area that is part of the default Eco-Sensitive Zone and a wildlife sanctuary. According to the proposal, the line passes through the default Eco-Sensitive Zone of Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary and a total of 921 trees are expected to be felled. A joint site inspection was conducted by officials of railway and state forest department on July 22, 2022.
According to the proposal, the Kalyan-Kasara railway line is one of the most congested stretches in the country. File pic
‘Mitigation plan must’
The proposal’s information on the area’s wildlife has shocked environmentalists and wildlife lovers. Stalin D from the NGO Vanashakti said, “The forest area from which the third line between Kalyan and Kasara is going to pass must have good wildlife presence. It’s astonishing that they have mentioned only snakes and rabbits. We trust that the project’s administrators will ensure that appropriate underpasses and culverts are planned for the safe passage of reptiles and wild animals. The government should also see to it that the planned compensatory transplantation is handled properly.” A wildlife lover from the area who did not wish to be named said, “Some of the spots which the railway line is planned to pass have good wildlife activity, including reptiles, wild boars, small Indian civets, and mongooses. Proper mitigation measures must be planned.”
‘Reforest equal area’
Wildlife conservationist Kedar Gore of the Corbett Foundation said, “Growing urbanisation is creating a demand for the upgradation of linear infrastructure which quite often takes a toll on the natural ecosystems and wildlife habitats. The proposed expansion of the suburban railway line between Kalyan and Kasara will need the cutting of over a thousand trees from 37 hectares of forests. While this project seems unavoidable and has been approved by the SBWL (State Board For Wildlife), the claims made by the Railways that ‘only snakes and rabbits were seen’ during their EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) survey are outrageous. This shows the apathy of the Railway Ministry towards the environment and a total lack of knowledge of agencies that prepare the EIA reports. The compensatory afforestation that the railways would have to do to compensate for the cutting of these trees should, in fact, be done to reforest a degraded patch of forest equivalent to 37 hectares in Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary, which would also be affected due to this project. It has several areas that need restoration due to years of neglect, mismanagement and abuse.”
Most congested line
The third railway line would require the diversion of 16.6846 hectares of forest land. The project has been in the planning stages since 2005 but was delayed due to several factors. All three streams of traffic, that is suburban, mail/express, and freight trains use the 67.62 km electrified double-line section between Kalyan and Kasara.
“The double-lined Kalyan-Kasara section is one of the most congested rail stretches in the country. As per CR records, 147 local trains, 71 long-distance trains, and about 20 freight trains run on the twin lines every day. All these trains compete with suburban trains for slots as the passenger load to Titwala, Asangaon and Kasara is growing phenomenally, which makes it a very congested route. The third line will take away some of the load on these two lines significantly. Once completed, the 67 km line will be the longest bi-directional rail line in the Mumbai division and will allow long-distance and goods trains to run in both directions. Also, the third line will allow the Indian Railway to run more suburban trains. Accordingly, a project has been sanctioned by the government of India to provide a third line between Kalyan and Kasara stations,” the project note stated.
Length of the proposed line
Daily local trains on the existing line
Daily long-distance trains on the existing line
Daily freight trains on the existing line