While people are currently protesting to save forest cover in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), now another infrastructure project is going to eat up 424 hectares of green cover. The construction of the Virar-Alibaug Multimodal Corridor road (MMC) will eat up forest cover of 424 hectares.
According to Mid-Day, the proposal in this regard is under consideration with the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). On March 24, the MMRDA submitted two proposals related to the MMC road project between Navghar in Palghar district to Balavali in Raigad district to the MoEF&CC for securing a wildlife clearance. The proposal has stated that 424.68 hectares of forest cover will have to make way for the Virar-Alibaug Multimodal Corridor road alignment project.
This forest cover includes patches from the Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, ESZ of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, deemed ESZ of Tungareswar Wildlife sanctuary, and the Thane creek flamingo sanctuary. A study conducted by an agency appointed by the MMRDA stated that there is movement of wild animals including Leopards, Rusty Spotted Cat, Sambar, birds like Brown Fish Owl, Mottled Wood Owl and Butterfly and moths like Blue Mormon (the largest butterfly), Atlas Moth (the largest moth) in the region. MMRDA joint project director Dilip Kawatkar told the Mid-Day that the MMC project was a crucial one "that will help in solving the commuting woes between Virar and Alibaug and will also cut down the travel time reducing air pollution."
With an aim to provide connectivity between MMR and Alibaug, the MMRDA has proposed phase-I construction from Navghar (in north MMR near Vasai-Virar) to Balavali (near NH17). MMRDA has allocated Rs 2,250 crore to the Virar-Alibaug multimodal corridor.