MMRDA eyes ‘early reforestation’ to pave the way for future projects | Bombay News

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Mumbai The Mumbai Metropolitan Development Authority (MMRDA) has requested the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) to identify a suitable parcel of degraded forest land in the state for large-scale reforestation works, to be undertaken in anticipation of projects of development in and around the Mumbai metropolitan area over the next three to four years.

The goal, officials familiar with the development said, is to preemptively plant significantly more trees than might be offered for felling by MMRDA in the near future, which will expedite permits for stakeholders such as state forest department, urban local authorities. agencies and the Maharashtra State Tree Authority (MSTA).

An official from MMRDA’s horticulture department, on condition of anonymity, said, “There are several transportation and infrastructure projects that the Authority will pursue in the coming years, such as the Wadala Underground Metro Corridor. -CSTM, Subway Lines 10, 11, 12, Nariman Point Cuffe Parade Connector, Gorai Creek Bridge and so on. We don’t have an estimate, but as with any development, trees will be affected. We want to do compensatory reforestation in advance. This will help the environment and speed up the clearance of these projects.

The approach is similar to a 2019 planting campaign by MMRDA and FDCM on 46 hectares of degraded forest land in Titwala and Shilphata, in which over 51,000 native tree saplings were planted. Based on this effort, the MSTA earlier this month authorized three key MMRDA projects, including the Worli-Sewri connector (which will lead to the cutting of 305 trees), the construction of Metro Line 2 of Kalanagar to Bandra-Kurla complex (344 trees), construction of metro viaduct from DN Nagar to Nanavati Hospital (233 trees).

Sadashiv Rote, Head of Rangeland Forests at FDCM, said, “Preemptively doing such a large-scale planting campaign has benefited MMRDA. They are not foresters, so they approached us to do the planting and the success rate of young trees is well over 80% in Titwala and Shilphata. We have now been asked to find other lands where they can conduct a similar exercise, so that when future projects apply for permissions, they can be dealt with without any hindrance. Finding the right place, however, will take some time. We haven’t started looking yet.

However, environmentalists have said this approach sets a poor regulatory precedent and that approvals for individual projects should be granted on a case-by-case basis. “The State Tree Authority was created to prevent trees from being cut down. But now he is authorizing new projects because of a single planting campaign carried out two years ago, without asking MMRDA any further questions. There is no provision for such a wholesale transaction in the Tree Act. This will put the authorities one hundred percent in a situation where they will be forced to approve MMRDA projects without too much scrutiny,” said Stalin D, director of the environmental NGO Vanashakti, which is a petitioner in the case of the carshed. Metro-3 at Aarey.

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