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3,027 trees won’t be axed as MMRDA drops road-widening project in Thane

In March 2013, MMRDA had proposed to cut 3,027 full-grown, fruit bearing trees to convert the two-lane road into a four-lane carriageway connecting national highways to Nashik, Pune and Gujarat.

mumbai Updated: Aug 25, 2018 10:47 IST
Snehal Fernandes
Snehal Fernandes
Hindustan Times
MMRDA,trees cutting in Mumbai Thane,Thane infra project
More than 3,000 heritage trees, which were to be axed for a road-widening project that was proposed in 2012 , got a new lease of life on Thursday. (HT File Photo)

More than 3,000 heritage trees, which were to be axed for a road-widening project that was proposed in 2012 , got a new lease of life on Thursday.

Disposing of a public interest litigation (PIL), the Bombay high court in its final order said Mumbai metropolitan region development authority (MMRDA) has decided to drop the proposed widening of 20-km Shirsad-Ambadi Road in Thane district.

In March 2013, HT was first to report that MMRDA had proposed to cut 3,027 full-grown, fruit bearing trees to convert the two-lane road into a four-lane carriageway connecting national highways to Nashik, Pune and Gujarat.

“On instructions, learned Counsel for Respondent 1 (MMRDA) submits that as per the letter dated 01/12/2016, the Respondent No.1 has decided not to go ahead with the proposed widening of the road in question. It is stated that now the said portion of the road has been handed over for maintenance and repairs to the state PWD (Public Works Department),” reads the order by a division bench of justice Shantanu Kemkar and justice Sarang Kotwal on August 23.

In September 2013, non-governmental organisation Vanashakti had moved the court seeking a restraining order against MMRDA from cutting trees.

The petition said the planning agency had failed to assess the impact on environment for the project despite a 2km stretch passing through Tungareshwar and Tansa wildlife sanctuaries. In March 2014, the court ordered a stay on tree felling.

Disposing of the PIL, the bench said, “…that the proposed road widening is not to be carried out, we are of the view that nothing survives in this PIL.”

However, the bench issued a rider in the order in case the project is revived in the future.

“In case, in future, the proposed road is decided to be widened, it will be open for petitioners to challenge the same and all contentions to that effect are kept open,” the order read.

Welcoming MMRDA’s decision to drop the project, environmentalists said trees are vital for protection of catchment areas, maintaining carbon balance and photosynthesis.

“A long drawn battle to save 3,000 trees on a road leading to pilgrimage centres in ecologically fragile areas has yielded positive results. We wish that the planning authorities don’t embark on reckless destruction of nature in their projects in the future. Needless destruction is not sustainable development,” said D Stalin, director, Vanashakti.

First Published: Aug 25, 2018 10:47 IST