MUMBAI: Around 1.5 km of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park(SGNP) will be deforested to widen the Dahisar-Surat section of Mumbai-Ahmedabad National Highway – 8. The section is also included in the recently notified eco-sensitive zone.
This is amongst several road and railway infrastructure projects that have been proposed through the world’s most unique urban forest. The other proposed projects include the Mumbai-Delhi Freight corridor, an elevated road connecting Mumbai to Thane, an underground tunnel also connecting Mumbai to Thane, a ropeway etc.
The proposal was sent to the National Wildlife Board directly by the state government. The Board has now directed the government to route it through the state wildlife board. The chief minister is the head of the board. Forest officials said it is only a matter of procedure and the deforestation of the 1.5 km stretch will be approved.
As per the proposal submitted to the Board it has been approved by the state’s chief wildlife warden with conditions and mitigation measures.
The SGNP authorities have suggested that a boundary wall be erected on either side of this stretch to prevent encroachment into the forest. It has also asked for sound barriers as the area is frequented by wildlife. Sources said overpasses and underpasses are not feasible on this stretch as it is too small. The park has one of the highest density of leopards. There are over 30 leopards in the 103 sq km park.