DFCCIL has sought stage-1 forest clearance for diversion of 13 hectares of forest land in Thane and Palghar districts for the construction of a double-line railway track connecting JNPT to Dadri.
The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL) has sought stage-1 forest clearance for diversion of 13 hectares (ha) of forest land in Thane and Palghar districts for the construction of a double-line railway track that will connect the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) to Dadri in Delhi.
The project had in 2015 been accorded forest clearance for 58ha of forest land – a portion of which includes the Sanjay Gandhi National Park – in Maharashtra.
A total of 2,267 mangrove trees (in an area of at least 9ha) are set to be cut for DFCCIL ‘s railway-line in Palghar, while 1,196 tivar trees are set to be cut in Thane district over an area of 3ha.
The additional area to be diverted consists mostly of mangrove forests.
“There are mangrove trees on private and government land at Paye, Payegaon, Chandrapada, Tivri and Shirgaon villages. This area was not included in the original proposal as guidelines for treating mangrove area as deemed forest was not in force. The new guidelines came to force in the year 2017,” DFCCIL wrote to the state forest department in December, referring to a Bombay high court order to bring mangrove forests under the ambit of the Forest Conservation Act (1980).
At the time, DFCCIL had sought general permission for cutting the mangrove trees from the forest department. However, the deputy conservator of forest’s office in Thane, in August 2019, advised DFCCIL to initiate a supplementary proposal under the revised guidelines.
“So we have accordingly applied for diversion of the additional 13-odd hectares. If our work on site had commenced in 2017 itself, there would have been no impediment,” said Rajeev Tyagi, chief general manager with DFCCIL.
The district forest officers of Thane and Dahanu, along with the chief conservator of forests (Thane), have recommended the proposal for clearance.
“The proposed project has increased the volume of the rail freight which will help upward economic growth, adding better transport facilities. The proposed project has created large-scale employment and improvement in transportation system, which will help in the fast growth of the economy. The proposed project is a public utility project. Hence, it is recommended, as it is beneficial for public and society,” the forest department noted, before forwarding the proposal to the state government, where it is currently pending, according to two officials in the forest department.
One dedicated freight corridor station and major bridges and viaducts fall in these areas, the construction work on which has so far not commenced due to the lack of forest clearance.
A total of 28ha in compartment no 687 of the Dhasai forest range (Shahapur division) has been selected for compensatory afforestation, at a cost of ₹2 crore over a 10-year period.
Palghar district has 114,803ha of forest area, of which 1,048.6 ha has been diverted across 45 different project proposals since 1980. In Thane, which has 2,062ha of forest area, 8.4ha have been diverted since the same year across 11 different project proposals.
Source : Hindustan Times