The National High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) request to cut down 21,997 mangrove trees in Mumbai, Palghar, and Thane to clear the path for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project was granted by the Bombay High Court on Friday, subject to several conditions.
In a petition submitted in 2020, NHSRCL requested permission to destroy around 53,000 mangrove trees for the 508 km long project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. However, the HC instructed the NHSRCL to destroy fewer mangroves than initially planned, so they reduced the number to 21,997.
The court ordered NHSRCL to uphold its promise to fully adhere to all terms and conditions outlined in the project approvals and its assurances to the court. It turned down a request to halt the execution of its order from the intervenor NGO Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG).
Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project
Approved by PM Narendra Modi in May 2014, Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor (MAHSR) or Mumbai-Ahmedabad HSR is a high-speed rail line that is currently under development. The construction, which was expected to begin in 2020, got delayed due to land clearance issues and Covid-19; however, the process is now being fast-tracked as 98% of the land has already been acquired, reports The Indian Express.
Once completed, it will be India's first high-speed rail line.Despite NHSRCL's claims of obediently reducinG the number of trees and undertaking to plant five times more trees to preserve the ecosystem, many have voiced their concerns over the ecosystem damage in the name of development.
BEAG, an NGO, challenged the petition, alleging that NHSRCL had not researched the likelihood that saplings planted as compensation would survive and did not give any Environmental Impact Assessment report for removing trees.
The NHSRCL had refuted the concerns expressed by the NGO and claimed that it had availed appropriate approvals for the felling of trees for the public interest project and would compensate for the loss arising from the same by planting saplings as directed. However, with this HC verdict, the legal hurdles have been eliminated.
Twitter reactions have also been pouring in from many journalists and environmental advocates.
The 508-km high-speed rail route between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is expected to reduce travel time from six and a half hours to two and a half hours. With no legal battles to fight, the project is expected to gather pace in the coming times.
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