JICA detests razing of mangroves for bullet trains

The bullet train will run at a speed of 320kmph and cover the Mumbai-Ahmedabad distance in an expected three hours.

JICA- Constrofacilitator

JICA, which is helping India build the bullet train, has said they will monitor the entire process of compensatory plantation and survival of mangroves for the project.

Environment groups campaigning against the destruction of 32,044 mangrove trees from the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project drew the attention of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japanese government, who are aiding the venture, towards the issue and its impact on the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

In an email response to a complaint by environment group The Nature Connect and Shree Ekvira Aai Pratishthan (SEAP), JICA said the nodal authority for the project, National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), will need to submit quarterly reports of environment monitoring.

To the concerns raised by environmentalists JICA has replied that JICA will monitor the result, including the transplantation and plantation of mangroves. If JICA judges that there is a need for improvement in a situation, it may ask NHSRCL to take appropriate actions as per JICA guidelines for environmental and social considerations.

The bullet train will run at a speed of 320kmph and cover the Mumbai-Ahmedabad distance in an expected three hours.

The project, estimated to cost Rs 1.10 lakh crores, is being built with help from JICA which agreed to fund 81% of the total project cost (Rs 88,087 crores), through a 50-year loan at an interest rate of 0.1%. The remaining cost will be borne by the Maharashtra and Gujarat government.

BN Kumar, director, The Nature Connect said that an environment impact study by JICA was crucial for this project. From all indications, it is clear that the project proponents (NHSRCL) do not care for environmental damage.

NHSRCL said they will abide by JICA’s directions. Sushma Gaur, spokesperson, NHSRCL said that as per the supplemental environment impact assessment (SEIA) report of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Railway Project, NHSRCL will submit a quarterly report to JICA.

On June 25, the Maharashtra transport minister told the legislative Assembly that 54,000 mangroves would be lost for the project across 13.36 hectares (ha), which was widely criticised by environmentalists and citizens.

In July it was reported that a reassessment by a team from the Centre, forest department, and NHSRCL had brought down the figure to 32,044 mangroves to be destroyed across 9.8ha.

 NHSRCL also plans to plant five times the mangroves lost (1.6 lakh saplings) by depositing money with the mangrove cell for compensatory afforestation.

Source: Hindustan Times