Of the 1,074 trees that will be cut to make way for the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ metro project , 136 have already been cut so far.
But, not a single tree has been transplanted or replaced.
The Maharashtra (Urban Areas) and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, says three new saplings must be planted within 30 days of a tree being cut, or the tree can be transplanted in another spot.
Activists, however, have pointed out that neither one has been done by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) anywhere in the city. The details came to light after they were shared by MMRC, in response to a Right to Information (RTI) query by the Mumbai-based NGO, Watchdog Foundation.
HT reported last month the civic body’s tree authority allowed MMRC to cut 1,074 trees and transplant 1,727 trees — a total of 2,811 trees will be affected — for the construction of 27 stations for the project.
While the cutting of trees was stopped on February 9 after the Bombay high court imposed an interim stay, acting on two PILs filed by residents, MMRC’s RTI response showed that its plan to replace the trees and what it may actually do are quite different.
In its RTI response, MMRC revealed the four locations and the exact area — 8.6 hectare (ha) at Aarey Colony, 8 ha in Mandala, Mankhurd, 8 ha in Wadala and on an open land next to the World Trade Centre building in Cuffe Parade.
However, Zoru Bathena, one of the petitioners in the Bombay HC matter said MMRC officials told him transplantations will only be done at Aarey Colony, Goregaon.
“After we told MMRC that except Aarey, the other locations did not have any space for transplanted trees, senior officers told us it would take place only at Aarey along with new plantations,” he said.
“As a responsible corporation that claims they have a responsibility towards the environment, MMRC’s actions on the ground prove otherwise. An international consultant has been appointed at a huge cost (Rs 1 crore) for tree plantation and transplantation purposes. This is being spent from the tax payer’s money, but it seems the services are not utilised at all,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation.
Despite repeated attempts to reach MMRC officials, they remained unavailable for a comment.