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‘File police complaint if trees are axed along Metro-4 route’

By Megha Pol, Thane
PUBLISHED ON NOV 29, 2019 08:39 PM IST

With chief minister Uddhav Thackeray announcing a stay on the Metro-3 car shed construction work at Aarey Colony in Mumbai on Friday, the issue of tree felling for Metro-4 corridor in Thane is also likely to witness an escalation.

Thane mayor Naresh Mhaske on Friday drafted a letter to the garden department of the civic body, asking its officials to file a police complaint against those responsible for the tree cutting on the Metro-4 route.

“MMRDA officials cut some trees at night despite a stay on tree felling by the Bombay high court (HC). The incident was brought to my notice by some activists and citizens, following which I have sent a letter to the garden department, demanding a full-fledged inquiry into the matter. I’ve also asked garden department officials to file a police complaint against those responsible for hacking the trees without permissions,”Mhaske said.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which is the executing authority for the project, has maintained that they had the required permissions to cut the trees. “Despite the permissions, we only trimmed the branches,” an MMRDA official said.

Environmentalists in the city had alleged on Thursday that around five to six trees were cut late on Wednesday by the MMRDA, for the ongoing Wadala-Kasarvadavli Metro-4 corridor work near Teen Hath Naka signal. The activists met the newly-appointed mayor demanding action against those responsible for the felling of trees.

“I had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) against the felling of more than 3,600 trees for various MMRDA projects, early this year, following which the HC had ordered a stay on tree cutting for projects, including for the Metro route. Metro authorities claimed that the trees were only trimmed. However, this is not true. Thus, we met the mayor and demanded strict action against those who cut trees,” said activist Rohit Joshi, who met the mayor with members of two youth groups, Muse and Thane Matadata Jagaran Abhiyan.

Meanwhile, environmentalists have planned a protest against the cutting of trees. Chetna Dixit, secretary of Thane Matadata Jagaran Abhiyan, said, “It is our duty to protect every tree in the city. We will stage a massive protest if needed, but will ensure that no more trees are harmed. If the civic body fails to lodge a complaint, we will file one ourself.”

The garden department has refused to comment on the matter.

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