Wait for the clearance for diversion of 129.7197 hectares forest land for the construction of Mumbai Ahmedabad Bullet Train in Thane district gets longer as the Regional Empowered Committee (REC) attached to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has deferred its approval for the proposal submitted by the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) in this regard. It has cited inconsistent data submitted by the state government on diversion of land and on actual number of trees to be felled.
Three-member sub-committee formed to inspect ground reality
The committee, at its meeting held on December 27, has decided to constitute a three member sub committee comprising Prof Suresh Chopane (Non Official Member, REC) Mr CB Tashildar, Assistant Inspector General of Forests (Central) and Mr N K Dimri, Technical Officer (Gr-I) to visit the proposed area to check the ground reality. In addition, the REC also decided to seek clarification from the State Government for submission of inconsistent data regarding Division wise area proposed for diversion and whether the number of trees proposed for felling is for full area or only in such area where working permission is granted. The REC had uploaded the minutes of the meeting on its website on January 6.
'Inconsistency in submitted data'
‘’After examination of information submitted by the Nodal Officer, IRO, Nagpur found that there is inconsistency in data submitted regarding Division wise area mentioned during submission of proposal and area submitted now and number of trees submitted during submission of proposal and number of trees submitted now,’’ said REC.
‘’Further, the Committee was also informed that transplantation is not possible as no suitable area is available in the nearby forest area for transplantingother trees. Majority of the trees are of coppice origin and the area is slopy in nature.Some areas are Rock terrain in nature. Storm water drains obstruct the machinery for transplanting trees. MIDC (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation) water pipe line and underground Gas pipeline situated along the road and forest boundary, obstructs movement of machinery to enter inside the forest,’’said REC in the minutes. These reasons were submitted by the Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF),Dahanu and DCF, Thane.
Actual number of trees more than shown in proposal
After examination of the proposal and interaction with the representatives of the NHSRCL, REC noted that the instant proposal was accorded State I approval on April 10, 2019. Accordingly, after submission of compliance report, final approval was accorded on August 18, 2022. The Chief Conservator of Forests (T), Thane has issued working permission in a non mangrove area to the NHSRCL for 88.1546 hectares out of 129.7197 hectares.
"Maximum number of trees up to 75 cm girth proposed to be felled may be transplanted by the State Government at the cost of User Agency (NHSRCL). However, the Chief Conservator of Forests (T), Thane through a letter dated November 25, 2022 informed that the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Dahanu and Thane when the enumeration of the trees was started for the process of transplantation, it was observed that the actual number of trees on field is more than the number of trees that have been shown in the proposal during submission. This is due to the positive error of sampling methodology by which the trees are enumerated during submission of proposal,’’ said REC.
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