‘Trees axed for Metro-4 against HC order’
Several environmental activists in the city have alleged that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) cut five to six trees near Teen Hath Naka, for the Wadala-Ghatkopar-Thane-Kasarvadavli Metro-4 line, in the early hours of Thursday, in violation of a Bombay high court order. However, MMRDA claimed that none of the trees were cut; they were pruned for transplantation.
This comes months after MMRDA received flak for chopping nearly 2,000 trees in Aarey for Metro-3 work overnight. More than 700 trees are likely to be affected by Metro-4 work, in Thane city. While hearing a petition filed by Thane Yuva Pratishthan, which demanded an underground Metro line to save trees, the HC on November 25 had vacated its interim order, which restrained the authority from felling any trees for Metro-4 work. However, environmentalist Rohit Joshi, who had filed two petitions, including the one by Thane Yuva Pratishthan, claimed the HC in September stayed the cutting of 3,600 trees for three MMRDA projects, including Metro-4.
“I have filed two petitions against the cutting of trees for Metro-4. One of the petitions was with the Thane Yuva Pratishthan and the other was to save 3,600 trees affected by three MMRDA projects. While the HC has vacated the stay on the first petition, there is still a stay on the second petition, which includes the Metro project. The authorities have chopped the branches in the dead of the night when there was no need for the same,” said Joshi. He said he will file a contempt petition and that a huge protest will be held by environmentalists and Thane residents.
However, Pramod Ahuja, director (works), of MMRDA, said they have not cut any of the trees. “We have merely pruned the branches of some of the trees on this route. All these trees are supposed to be transplanted to Shildaighar. None of the trees will be cut. The HC had vacated the stay on cutting of trees for Metro-4 while hearing the petition filed by Thane Yuva Pratishthan. We have all the required permissions to transplant these trees.”
Environmentalist Nishant Bangera, founder of a youth group, Muse, who reached the spot on Thursday with some of the members of his organisation, said they had submitted objections against the tree-cutting to the Thane civic body, around eight months ago. “When the Thane civic body invited suggestions and objections to tree-cutting for Metro-4, we submitted our objections. However, we did not get any hearing date and the tree cutting was approved. How can they give approval without any hearing? What was the need to trim these trees overnight?” he said. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena workers, too, reached the spot in the wee hours of Thursday to stop the cutting of trees.
Avinash Jadhav, president of Thane unit of MNS, said they will support the environmentalists to save these trees.