HSR: An ecofriendly transport option
High Speed Rail is a proven eco-friendly transport option worldwide and according to a study by International Union of Railways, CO2 emission for a 600 km trip per passenger by high-speed rail is 8.1 Kg as compared to 67.4 kg for car travel and 93 kg for airplane travel.
The one major aspect MAHSR project is significantly focusing on is that of keeping an eco-friendly approach towards one of its main stakeholders: the environment. In the wake of rising concerns over issues like climate change, global warming and alarming pollution levels, the idea of putting India on the fast-track to progress & prosperity needs to be tackled with care and responsibility. Therefore, every measure is being taken in the process to protect the environment and make this project an environmentally feasible one.
Some significant steps taken by NHSRCL to protect the environment are as follows:
- Without changing the location of Thane station, design of station was modified and 12 hectares of affected Mangrove region got reduced to only 3 hectares. So, this way, NHSRCL has saved around 21000 mangroves and now only 32044 mangroves will get affected from the entire project.
- Above, is not the net loss of the mangroves, because NHSRCL will get the affected mangroves from the bullet train project compensated at the rate of 1:5, by depositing money into Mangroves cell, which will do the compensatory afforestation of the mangroves. So, the number of affected mangroves is 32044 and around 160000 new mangroves will be planted and the entire financial expense will be borne by NHSRCL.
- In order to protect flamingo sanctuary and the adjoining eco-sensitive zone in Thane creek area, a landmark decision was taken to pass train underground (up to 40 m below ground) so as to have minimal disturbance to the flamingos and mangroves in the area.
- MAHSR bullet train alignment is carefully planned through an 80 m wide area between Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Tungareshwar National Park (and not inside them), which is notified as a non-protected area for wildlife. Same 80 m wide area is being used by many other projects like existing highway, Panvel Virar highway, existing railway line, DFCC and many other projects. Noise barriers will be installed all along the project viaduct in this area so that wild animals will not get disturb because of the noise from movement of trains. Since, corridor is planned through outside boundaries of these national parks, there is no disturbance to the wildlife in these parks.
- NHSRCL has voluntarily undertaken transplantation of trees, in addition to the compensatory afforestation works for tree cut. Approx. 7900 trees are transplanted till date
- Till date NHSRCL has also planted around 78,000 new trees at various locations. Other than tree plantation, aftercare and monitoring of planted trees is also being undertaken to ensure the high survival rate of the planted trees.
- Efficient technologies like Miyawaki Method is also adopted by NHSRCL for carrying out plantation works in one of the site. The Miyawaki method is a panacea for urban woes. By this method thirty times more trees can be planted in the same area. The method involves planting two to four trees per square metre. Miyawaki forests grow in two to three years and are self-sustaining. They help lower temperatures in concrete heat islands, reduce air and noise pollution, attract local birds and insects, and create carbon sinks. Plantation using Miyavaki method is used by NHSRCL for plantation at Bhel Village, Vadodara (Vadodara Municipal Corporation). Area of approx. 0.5 acres is already developed into Miyawaki forest and 5250 trees were planted against 150 trees using conventional method. This area is highly compact and is developed as urban forest. Additional 0.5 acres area will also be developed into Miyawaki forest in the same location and it is planned to plant approx. 3500 trees more in this area.