The ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) or ‘Bullet’ Train Project has mystically secured the wildlife and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearances from the Union Environment Ministry committees, despite much consternation, confusion, clamour and resistance. This is a distressing trend observed with most other destructive, developmental project clearances. Apart from the massive damage this will do along its length, the train corridor is asking for the diversion of almost 100 hectares (forest and nonforest land) from Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), around five hectares from the Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (TWLS) and about four hectares from the Thane Creek Flamingo Wildlife Sanctuary (TCFWLS). This is unprecedented and bodes ill for the future of Mumbai in an era of climate change.
These clearances were allegedly wrongly obtained without officially acquiring all of the required 1,434.4 ha. of land needed for the project. The land acquisition is being opposed by farmers, tribal groups and activists in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Environmentalists fear the construction, which will cause havoc in ecologically sensitive areas on account of the inevitable ‘borrow and dump’ pits inside and outside the wildlife sanctuaries and national park. Additional issues include the interruption of wildlife corridors, sound pollution, the felling of thousands of trees, including mangroves. The MAHSR corridor will also viol