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Bullet train gets forest clearance :

Bullet train gets forest clearance 

What in news about Bullet train gets forest clearance ?

  • A committee, chaired by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, has accorded wildlife clearance to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed train corridor that encroaches upon a flamingo sanctuary and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the home to leopards, in Mumbai.
  • The proposal involves diversion of 3.2756 ha of forestland from the Thane Creek Flamingo Wildlife Sanctuary and 97.5189 ha of land close to the boundary of the forest’s protected area.
  • A wildlife clearance is a critical part of the forest clearance process.

 About  Bullet train project  gets forest clearance :

  • The project for one of India’s first ‘bullet trains’ was inaugurated in Ahmedabad in September, 2017. It is expected to be ready by 2022.
  • Largely funded by a soft loan by Japan, the Rs 1 trillion Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project has a track-length of 508 km, and will originate at the Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai and terminate at the Sabarmati, in Gujarat.
  • The length across the State of Maharashtra will be 155.64 km 4.3 km across Dadra & Nagar Haveli. Besides, The total length across the state of Gujarat would 348.2 km and would pass through the districts of Ahmedabad, Kheda, Anand, Vadodara, Bharuch, Surat, Navsari, and Valsad in Gujarat.
  • The Thane Creek Flamingo in Thane, Mumbai, came into being August 2015 and the 1,690-hectare bird haven — 896 hectares of mangrove forests and 794 hectares of a water-body — is on the western bank of the creek, between the Airoli and the Vashi bridges connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
  • Apart from the creek, the proposal also involves diverting 32.75 ha of forestland and 77.30 ha of non-forestland from Sanjay Gandhi National Park and from 0.6902 ha of forestland and 4.7567 ha of non-forest land from Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • While according clearance, the National Board of Wildlife has laid pre-conditions for the bullet train project.
  • These include paying Rs 10 crore (2% of 500 crore the component of the project in Mumbai) for habitat improvement of the sanctuary.

Background in Bullet train gets forest clearance :

About National Board of Wildlife

  • National Board for Wild Life is a “Statutory Organization” constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • Theoretically, the board is “advisory” in nature and advises the Central Government on framing policies and measures for conservation of wildlife in the country.
  • However, it is a very important body because it serves as apex body to review all wildlife-related matters and approve projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries.
  • Primary function of the Board is to promote the conservation and development of wildlife and forests.
  • It has power to review all wildlife-related matters and approve projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries.
  • No alternation of boundaries in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries can be done without approval of the NBWL.
  • The NBWL is chaired by the Prime Minister.
  • It has 47 members including the Prime Minister. Among these, 19 members are ex-officio members. Other members include three Members of Parliament (two from Lok Sabha and one from Rajya Sabha), five NGOs and 10 eminent ecologists, conservationists and environmentalists.

 About Sanjay Gandhi National Park: 

  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park is spread over three districts – Palgar, Thane and Mumbai Suburb. The region is hilly with elevations between 30 m and 480 m .
  • Geographically, The park encompasses two lakes, Vihar Lake and Tulsi Lake, which meet part of the city’s water requirements.
  • Flora : The karvi shrub, as it is locally called in the Marathi language, sometimes also spelled as karvy in English, only blooms once in eight years in a mass flowering covering the forest floor in a lavender blush. It grows in abundance in the Western Ghats hills near Mumbai

About Flamingo sanctuary:

  • Western side of the Thane creek is a dedicated flamingo sanctuary. Thane Creek is home to flamingos as well as other migratory and residential bird species. It is Maharashtra’s second marine sanctuary after the one at Malvan.
  • It is recognized as an “Important Bird Area” by the Bombay Natural History Society and also declared as “Flamingo Sanctuary”.
  • Moreover, Thane creek railway bridge or Thanna Viaduct is the oldest rail bridge constructed on this creek. The bridge lies between Thane and Parsik tunnel.

About Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary:

  • On the periphery of Mumbai, in Vasai, lies Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. Spread over 85, it forms a corridor between Sanjay Gandhi National Park (also known as Borivali National Park) and Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary. There are three different types of forests – Dry Deciduous, Moist Deciduous and Semi Evergreen.
  • Tungareshwar is a mountain plateau situated between Virar and Vasai. It is a dense forest region – in the monsoon, the surroundings are lush and green, and interspersed with flowing waterfalls. At an altitude of about 2,177 feet, it is a popular destination for trekkers.

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