The corridor is close to Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai
The Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project in western India, spanning over about 1,500 kilometres and covering six states, received forest clearance from the Central Forest Advisory Committee on December 22. The clearance is for 58 hectares (ha) of forestland in Maharashtra in the reserved and protected forest areas of Thane (16 ha) and Dahanu (31 ha) forest divisions. It includes 10.8 ha of forestland diversion in Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).
The project by Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL), a Government of India undertaking under the Ministry of Railways, involves construction of new railway double line from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Maharashtra to Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, a large part of which is parallel to the existing railway track. According to DFCCIL officials, the project has been planned in the wake of rapid growth of Indian economy in the last few years that has created a demand for additional capacity of rail freight transportation.
According to Asad Rahmani, member the National Board of Wildlife (NWBL), “The project involves a part of SGNP, but given the importance of the freight corridor, the project’s impact is negligible. Moreover, the corridor will pass near the edge of the park and will have very little effect on the ecology of the park as the line has been proposed parallel to the existing railway tracks”. Regarding concerns for wildlife corridors, Rahmani said, “NBWL has set forth clauses for building underpasses for the movement of animals at four points in the national park”.
An official of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests who did not want to be named said the project involves felling of very few trees and “is in the part of the national park or the forest divisions that do not have rich floral and faunal species”.
The proposal received a nod from the NBWL Standing Committee on December 12. It now awaits the decision of the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court.
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