Can’t declare Mumbai’s Aarey a forest, says NGT
Three years after filing a plea in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to oppose the construction of the car shed for Metro-3 (Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ) at Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon, environment group Vanashakti withdrew the petition on Thursday, after being told by the tribunal that the case would be dismissed as “only a high or Supreme Court could give them relief”. The petitioner plans to move the SC at the earliest.
In June 2015, Vanashakti and another citizens’ association, Aarey Conservation Group, filed a petition with NGT’s western bench in Pune against the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), seeking that Aarey be designated as a forest and construction of the 33-hectare car shed be carried out elsewhere.
The construction of the Metro-3 car shed would lead to destruction of 3,000 trees.
“NGT observed the primary plea of the applicants was to declare Aarey a forest and identify the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). As the union environment ministry declared the ESZ in December 2016, which excluded land earmarked for car depot in Aarey, the plea was no more valid,” said Kiran Bhagalia, counsel for MMRC.
The petitioners said the matter was disposed of within 10 minutes.
“NGT expressed helplessness as it does not have powers under the NGT Act. It has not said anything about clearing construction for the Metro car shed project,” said Stalin D, director, NGO Vanashakti and petitioner in the matter.
The tribunal also lifted the stay on debris dumping, tree felling and land reclamation at Aarey, issued as an interim order by the principal bench of NGT on May 14, allowing all construction activity.
“With this order, all legal hurdles are cleared and car depot works can progress in full swing,” said Ashwini Bhide, managing director, MMRC.
Fifteen students had a narrow escape after their school bus skidded into a waterlogged open drain in Daulat Singhwala village in Phabat area of Zirakpur. The bus, which was ferrying students of Blue Bird High School, Sector 16, Panchkula, was making way for another school bus when it skidded into the overflowing drain. The bus tilted in the drain, but passersby and parents were able to rescue the children through the driver's window.
Tricity residents woke up to heavy rainfall for the second time this month on Wednesday. Three people went missing after a taxi, shuttling two commuters, was swept away in a flashflood in the Patiala-Ki-Rao rivulet as the driver attempted to cross the causeway in Tanda Village near Nayagaon. The owner of the vehicle, Rakesh Kumar told the police that Gaurav had called him saying two people, travelling to Baddi, had booked his cab.
Chandigarh received 97mm rainfall between 6am and 8.30am, the heaviest rain in July since 2017, as per the India Meteorological Department. It received another 0.9mm of rainfall during the day. The maximum precipitation till 8.30am was recorded at the Sector 39 observatory (97mm), 49.2mm rain was recorded at the airport observatory, 77.5mm rain in Panchkula and 74.5 mm rain in Mohali.
A flight from Mumbai was cancelled and 19 others were delayed at the Chandigarh International Airport due to inclement weather on Wednesday. Go First flight G8-2506, was unable to take off due to heavy downpour in Mumbai. While 11 flights arrived late, eight departed late. Two Alliance Air flights from Himachal Pradesh were delayed by over an hour due to heavy rainfall in the hill state.
With showers lashing Panchkula on Wednesday, many sectors were flooded with rainwater and cars were seen ploughing through knee-deep water in several areas. Despite the meteorological department's timely warning regarding the arrival of monsoon, the civic body failed to resolve the recurring waterlogging issue, which has been plaguing residents for decades. Just after a few hours of downpour, waterlogging was observed several areas, with Sector 19, the last sector bordering Punjab, the worst affected.