The much-delayed Mumbai Trans Harbour Link -a 22-km road bridge connecting the island city with Navi Mumbai -can finally take off with the Bombay high court granting MMRDA permission to cut mangroves and construct on mangrove plots.
Recently , chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said construction of the important roadlink would begin by January 2017.
Advocate Saket Mone, counsel for MMRDA, said the crucial infrastructure project had received clearances from the MoEF and the CRZ this January . He pointed to an MoEF communication saying there was no necessity for prior environmental clearance for standalone bridges like the MTHL.
The MTHL will impact around 47.4 hectares of forest land, including 38.6 hectares of land that is covered with mangroves at Sewri and on the Navi Mumbai side. In October 2005, the HC had banned cutting of mangroves or construction and dumping of debris on mangroves and its buffer zone. Subsequently , the court had granted exemptions and allowed cutting of mangroves for important public development projects.For MMRDA, the HC nod is one of the final approvals it needs to go ahead with the project.
MMRDA said it will undertake afforestation work on 47.4 hectares of non-forest land in four villages -Morbe in Panvel, Wanjle and Ranvali in Sriwardhan, and Durtoli in Roha. In addition, it will undertake compensatory mangrove plantation on 223 hectares (five times the mangrove area that will be used for the project) through the forest department's mangrove cell. It has deposited over Rs.49 lakh with the forest department.
The planning authority has further said it will implement a series of measures to minimize the impact on the environment during construction. This will include use of temporary steel bridge or jetty parallel to the permanent structure for transport of workers and machinery , use of mufflers and noise silencers on machines, low lighting on the bridge to avoid disturbing the bird habitats at night and limiting construction of jetty to 30 months. “As far as possible during construction, machinery movement will bypass locations having migratory birds,“ the MMRDA assured the HC in its affidavit. It will also invest 2% of the project cost towards environmental and forest protection and conservation issues, including mudflat and mangrove restoration, the affidavit said.