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Bombay HC refuses to stop MMRCL from cutting trees for Mumbai Metro-3

Mumbai city news: The court was hearing a bunch of pleas filed by residents claiming the authorities were illegally hacking trees

mumbai Updated: Jun 27, 2017 10:09 IST
Ayesha Arvind
Ayesha Arvind
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,Bombay high court,MMRCL
Residents have been climbing trees to stop them from being cut for Metro-3.(HT)

The Bombay high court on Friday refused to restrain the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) from cutting trees across south Mumbai to make way for the Metro-3 line.

Around 5,000 trees are to be felled for the Metro-3 project.

A vacation bench of justice PD Naik and MS Karnik observed as long as the authorities were complying with the previous orders of the HC on felling/replanting the trees, there was no scope to grant a stay.

The bench took note of the submissions made by both the MMRCL and the BMC, which said they were following all norms and that only trees for which permission had been granted by the tree authority were being felled.

The court was hearing a bunch of pleas filed by residents claiming the authorities were illegally hacking trees.

During the previous hearing on Wednesday, the petitioners had submitted photos before the court, alleging several trees in Worli that were numbered for transplant had been chopped.

On Friday, MMRCL counsel advocate Mustafa Doctor denied the allegations and said the petitioners’ apprehensions were misconceived.

He said all trees along the Metro-3 site had been marked differently by the BMC to identify those that are to be felled or transplanted. Such markings, he said, wouldn’t be apparent to laymen, including the petitioners.

BMC counsel advocate Anil Sakhre submitted a plan detailing the marks or the numbers given to such trees. Sakhre submitted earlier this week BMC officials as well as officials from the HC and the Maharashtra Legal Services Authority had inspected all sites in south Mumbai, where trees were being cut to ensure compliance with the norms.

MMRCL also argued that just as the petitioners, it too cared for the “100-year-old trees that it was felling”, but it wasn’t flouting any norms or conditions while doing so for the Metro project and was instead following a well devised “plan.”

At this, the bench said, “We are also concerned for the trees, but when development projects are concerned, a middle ground has to be arrived at.”

The bench said there is no scope for a stay based on the current pleas.

The court also accepted the BMC’s submission that henceforth a junior tree officer of the ward concerned will remain present every time trees are felled for the project.

The HC is likely to take up the matter for further hearing on June 5 this year.

First Published: May 26, 2017 13:38 IST