BMC Gets the Go-Ahead for the Translocation of Corals at Haji Ali and Worli

BMC Gets the Go-Ahead for the Translocation of Corals at Haji Ali and Worli

The BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) has received the go-ahead for the translocation of corals at Haji Ali and Worli from the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Nagpur. This approval was necessary for the ambitious Coastal Road Project estimated to cost Rs 12,700 crores.

The translocation project will be done along Marine Drive’s Princess Street Flyover all the way up to Worli, spanning 10.58 kilometres. Officials are confident that the translocation will be done within two days in November with the assistance of experts from the National Institute of Oceanography. Authorities said that the translocation will only take two days due to the “minuscule” presence of corals at both sites.

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As per the current proposals, the coral colonies at Haji Ali will be shifted to Marine Lines whereas the corals at Worli will be translocated further away from the proposed construction site. However, there are some concerns with regard to the civic body’s translocation process.

Marine researcher, Shaunak Modi said - “I hope the BMC is able to translocate the colonies of reef-building False Pillow corals on the Haji Ali shore. These colonies were almost lost to land reclamation last month.”

The National Institute of Oceanography had spotted and identified six coral species at Worli and Haji Ali. These are located within 18 colonies over a 0.251 square metre (sq.m) radius at Worli and 0.11 sq.m radius at Haji Ali.

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Though BMC initially didn’t acknowledge the presence of corals in the region, a subsequent Bombay High Court order asked the civic body to get the necessary permissions and approvals before starting construction at the site. The court said that a failure to do so may adversely impact species that are covered under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

With this backdrop, the BMC sought requisite clearances and sent a proposal to the Mangrove Cell of the State Forest Department in September for the translocation of the coral colonies. Earlier this month, the Mangrove Cell forwarded the civic body’s application to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), Wildlife. 

The BMC has said that the process will go forward with the guidelines in mind. “While granting NOC for translocation, the Wildlife Board told us to follow all guidelines. They have told us to complete the translocation by December but we will finish before that. We will need two days of low tide for moving these corals to a new site,” an anonymous civic official said. 

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