The National Board of Wildlife, led by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, in January 2019 accorded wildlife clearance to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Project (MAHSR) that passes through the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai.
The line, also known as the bullet train, would be India’s first high-speed rail line. The work for the said corridor was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Ahmedabad in September 2017. The corridor is expected to be ready by 2022.
The wildlife clearance was accorded for following proposals:
• For the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor, 3.2756 hectares of forestland and 97.5189 hectares of land close to protected area of Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary will be diverted.
• Diversion of 32.75 ha of forestland and 77.30 ha of non-forestland from Sanjay Gandhi National Park
• Diversion of 0.6902 ha of forestland and 4.7567 ha of non-forest land from Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Conditions laid by board for bullet train project
While according the clearance, the National Board of Wildlife laid the pre-conditions for the bullet train project. These conditions were:
• Payment of Rs 10 crore (2 percent of Rs 500 crore component of the project in Mumbai) for habitat improvement of the sanctuary and barricading the work site to ensure that no debris fall outside the project area
• Providing site and funds for penal plantation of at least 5 times the number of mangroves plants anticipated to be lost in this project.
The National Board of Wildlife is the apex body tasked with according permissions to allow forest land to be diverted for industrial development.
Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Project (MAHSR)
• The Rs 1 trillion Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Project has a track-length of 508 km.
• It will begin from the Bandra Kurla Complex of Mumbai and terminate at the Sabarmati in Gujarat.
• The length across Maharashtra will be 155.64 km and 4.3 km across Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
• The total length across Gujarat would 348.2 km and would pass through the districts of Ahmedabad, Kheda, Anand, Vadodara, Bharuch, Surat, Navsari, and Valsad.
• The project is largely funded by a soft loan by Japan.