Objecting to the hacking of 541 trees to make way for four stations along the Metro-3 line, NGO Watchdog Foundation has filed a complaint with the tree department of the civic body.
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL), which is building the Metro rail, has submitted a proposal to the tree authority of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for permission to cut trees. On Saturday, the tree department issued a public notice identifying the trees at SEEPZ station (127 trees), Marol Naka (59), domestic airport (115) and Sahar Airport (230) and seeking suggestions and objections from the public to the plan.
“We are not against infrastructure projects that will boost the city’s development. The MMRCL and the tree authority need to understand that for any project, the environment takes a hit. Our plea to the authorities is to carry out the project in the larger interest of safeguarding the environment,” said Godfrey Pimenta, trustee, Watchdog Foundation. “If the project is sanctioned, the tree authority needs to identify a location where the trees will be replanted, along with regular follow-ups until the work is complete.”
According to Pimenta, the MMRCL’s proposal includes the latest cut-and-cover method involving cutting of tunnels so that minimum damage is caused to the environment. “If the technology is the latest, then why this mindless destruction of nature,” he asked in his complaint.
Officials from the tree department said citizens can send their suggestions and objections through this week and a meeting with citizens will be held next week. “If mindless destruction of trees is carried out, with no measures for transplantation or replantation, the project will be brought to a halt,” said a senior official from the garden department.
MMRCL officials said they are following a ‘fair and uniform approach’ to avoid unnecessary damage to the environment. “This is not the first tree-cutting for a development project. There is a procedure involved and we are following it. The tree department will tell us the number of trees that can be cut, identify the area for replantation and we will comply with it,” said Ashwini Bhide, managing director, MMRCL.