39,000 Trees to Be Cut for the New Mumbai -Vadodara Expressway

More than 39,000 trees will be chopped by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to make space for the new Mumbai-Vadodara expressway.

For centuries, humans have been sacrificing nature in the name of development. The latest example of this sacrifice unfolds in Maharashtra, where the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is fervently working on the new Mumbai-Vadodara expressway.

The expressway aims to connect Vadodara in Gujarat with Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPA) in Raigad district via Palghar near Mumbai. It promises to alleviate the heavy traffic of container vehicles traveling to JNPA through the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway, particularly in Thane and on the Mumbai-Nashik highways.

However, reports indicate a heavy toll on the environment, with over 39,000 trees slated for chopping in Palghar and Thane alone. The NHAI's plan involves a 166.67 km stretch passing through Maharashtra, necessitating the acquisition of 2,242 hectares of land, including 304 hectares of forest land.

NHAI has already obtained permission to fell 39,132 trees in Maharashtra, with a significant portion located in forest areas. Moreover, the construction entails the demolition of over 3,000 houses and buildings, 48 religious structures, and 185 large warehouses.

Palghar, with its substantial tribal population and diverse flora and fauna, is already grappling with the adverse effects of ongoing mega infrastructure projects like the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train and the Vadhavan port near Dahanu. These projects have significantly depleted the green cover of the district, and the construction of the new expressway threatens to exacerbate the existing damage.

In an interview, NHAI's Chief General Manager, Anshumali Srivastava, assured compensatory afforestation for the chopped trees, with funds already deposited with the Maharashtra forest department.

The question arises: Is it justifiable to sacrifice 39,000 trees for an expressway, particularly amidst rising temperatures due to global warming? We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments.