Mumbai: Starting 2018, forest officials to ban vehicles from SGNP

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Forest department officials facing fire from environmentalists, nature lovers and officials from the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, are working towards banning entry into Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).

The officials are now awaiting a go-ahead so that they can begin work on a parking area outside the park’s premises.

The final hurdle in the path of the parking lot was cleared this month after BMC gave a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the proposal that will see a construction of a parking area to accommodate 300 cars just outside SGNP, in place of an existing garden.

“Our proposal was lying with BMC for over a year now but it has been finally cleared and we have now submitted it for a final approval so that we can start the construction work by November end and complete it by early 2018. Once the parking area is ready all the vehicles will be parked outside and not allowed to enter the gate,” said Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) and Director of SGNP, Anwar Ahmed.

“We are sure that by early 2018 SGNP will indeed be ‘car free’, visitors coming to SGNP can take a tour using electric buses, which will be run by MTDC that will be used inside the park. This will not only reduce pollution, but will also add to reducing congestion in the park premises,” a forest official told DNA.

Sources in the Forest department said that due to the delay in getting permission for constructing the parking area where even these electric buses would be parked as well as bay would be created for charging them even the MTDC officials who had signed an MOU in 2015 to run these buses were losing patience.

Meanwhile, nature lovers who have been long demanding SGNP be made free of private vehicles said that they hope that the project isn’t further delayed. “The project has been delayed by over two years now and several animals are being killed due to speeding vehicles inside the park. As per information under RTI we found out that four large mammals were killed between January to June this year and hence we want to ensure that forest department ensures that the parking lot is built as quickly as possible so that all private vehicles can be banned from entering,” said Gopal Jhaveri, a nature lover and member of morning walkers club in SGNP.

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