Nearly 25 hectares of degraded forest near Film City at Borivli’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) could be used for replantation of trees which will be uprooted for the Metro-3 (Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ) project, officials told HT.
HT reported in March that the tree authority of the BMC allowed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) to cut 1,074 trees and transplant another 1,727 for the Metro line. For the 1,074 trees that will be chopped, the MMRC will have to plant a similar number of saplings.
Officials from MMRC and SGNP last week carried out a site visit to check if the plan was feasible. While no formal proposal has been received by park authorities, they are ready to allocate the area to increase forest cover.
The Metro-3 project — which will have 27 stations— will lead to the destruction of more than 5,000 trees in Mumbai.
After the Bombay high court lifted its stay on cutting of trees two weeks ago, environmentalists in the city moved the Supreme Court.
The Apex Court imposed an interim stay on felling of trees until the matter is heard on Thursday.
“There is no harm in allowing replantation and transplantation of trees as it will only help boost the green cover of this degraded site and the entire forest,” said Anwar Ahmed, director and chief conservator of forest, SGNP. He said the location was on the fringes of the park near Matangad.
“We have the space, they (MMRC) have the resources. Both parties will benefit from this,” Ahmed added.
“The MMRC is in discussions with the SGNP director to explore possibility of compensatory and additional plantation on degraded areas of SGNP,” said a spokesperson for the MMRC.
Of 1,074 trees proposed to be axed, 136 , or 13%, already have been. However, not a single tree has been transplanted. The MMRC has not yet asked for permission from the BMC to cut trees at Aarey Colony, Goregaon.
Environmentalists said the talk of compensatory plantation or replantation was a farce. “All compensatory afforestation and transplantation is mere paperwork. Before SGNP officials allocate the degraded forest land for transplantation, they need to first identify the exact boundary of the national park,” said Stalin D, director, NGO Vanashakti.