Bombay HC refuses to stop felling of 2,464 trees for metro project at Aarey
Bombay HC refuses to declare Mumbai’s Aarey Colony forest area, also declines to quash approval to cut trees for metro car shedUpdated: Oct 04, 2019 13:44 IST
In a major reprieve for the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRC), the Bombay high court on Friday dismissed petitions challenging the felling of 2,464 trees from Aarey Milk Colony to make way for a car shed for Mumbai Metro Line - 3.
Activist Zoru Bhathena had challenged the August 29 decision of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) tree authoritiy allowing MMRC to cut 2,185 and to transplant 461 trees to make way for the Metro car shed.
Bhathena contended that the tree authority did not follow the procedure for deciding tree cutting proposals laid down by the high court earlier this year. He said the tree authority, constituted under the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1971, had on June 30, called for suggestions and objections from members of the public on the proposal by the MMRC for removal of 2,702 trees - cutting 2,238 trees and transplanting 464 trees.
Accordingly, he submitted his objection to the proposal raising 14 points. On July 8, the tree officer conducted a public hearing, where approximately 500 citizens once again raised their objections, but none of the objections were taken into consideration by the tree authority, he complained.
On August 29, the tree authority cleared the proposal with reduction of 56 trees to be cut, allowing felling of 2,646 trees - 2,185 to be cut and 461 to be transplanted.
Bhathena had also taken strong objection to the fact that the tree authority did not take dissenting views of its independent expert members into consideration and that its resolution did not contain reasons for overruling its own objections.
The division bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Bharati Dangre also dismissed another petition filed by Bhathena challenging the same decision on the ground that Aarey Colony was a flood plane of Mithi river.
The court dismissed yet another petition filed by Yashwant Jadhav, a tree authority member, claiming the minutes of the August 29 meeting did reflect true facts and that he opposed the decision allowing MMRC to cut trees for the .etro project.
After pronouncement of the judgment, advocate Zaman Ali appearing for one of the petitioners requested the court to order MMRC to maintain status quo regarding tree-cutting for the Metro car shed. The bench refused to pass an order, but said “we hope they will maintain status quo.”