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Mumbai civic body receives 82,000 complaints against tree-cutting at Aarey

Apart from the MMRC’s proposal to build a car shed in Aarey Colony, the MMRDA is looking at building the Metro Bhavan and the BMC is also looking at building a zoo in the colony.

mumbai Updated: Jul 09, 2019 01:05 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
Tanushree Venkatraman
Hindustan Times
mumbai,aarey colony,Metro-3
Close to 500 Mumbaiites attended a public hearing conducted by the BMC in Bandra Kurla Complex on Monday, and strongly objected to the cutting of 2,702 trees to make way for the car shed. (HT file)

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) received 82,000 objections against cutting trees for the Metro 3 car shed in Aarey Colony, which is double the number of suggestions and objections the same proposal received when it was put forth in 2018. Close to 500 Mumbaikars, including tribal women from Aarey Colony, attended a public hearing conducted by the BMC in Bandra Kurla Complex on Monday, and strongly objected to the cutting of 2,702 trees to make way for the car shed.

BMC’s superintendent of gardens, Jitendra Pardeshi said, “In October 2018, we got 40,000 objections. This time, we have got 82,000 objections. Most of the citizens have demanded that the car shed should not be built in Aarey.”

Activist Zoru Bhathena said, “The number of trees going to be affected by the project is going up year by year. In 2014, the tree authority had stated 2,298 trees will be affected, of which only 254 will be cut and the balance will be transplanted. A state-appointed committee has suggested that not more than 500 trees should be affected and now, in 2019, the number of affected trees stands at 2,702, despite MMRC’s claim that about 1,000 trees have been saved.”

Apart from the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation’s (MMRC) proposal to build a car shed in Aarey Colony, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is looking at building the Metro Bhavan and the BMC is also looking at building a zoo in the colony.

Manisha Dhinde a tribal from Aarey Colony, questioned the authorities on the number of projects in the area. “Has anyone given a thought to our livelihood before announcing projects in Aarey?” she said.

Resident Aashish Patil demanded a site-inspection at Aarey Colony by the tree authority, claiming many trees have already been cut. “When we want to even trim a tree, we have to seek permissions from multiple-authorities, then who has given authorities permission to cut so many trees?” Patil said.

According to officials present at the meeting, the objections will be put forward to the BMC’s tree authority, which will take a final call on the proposal. “We will present all the objections and the MMRC’s proposal before the tree authority,” an official said.

Bombay HC appoints amicus curiae over felling of mangroves

The Bombay high court (HC) has appointed an amicus curiae in the petition filed by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) seeking the HC’s permission to cut mangroves on 3.27 hectares of forest land, to make way for a car maintenance yard and piers for the Metro 2A and 2B projects. The MMRDA has received a conditional clearance from the Mumbai Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) and directed MMRDA to take permission from the HC.

The MMRDA informed the bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice N M Jamdar that it had permission from all authorities for the Metro 2A and 2B project (from Dahisar to DN Nagar, and Dahisar to Mandale in Mankhurd), including the ministry of forests and environment and the MCZMA. As the MCZMA had given a conditional environmental clearance and directed the MMRDA to take permission from the HC to cut mangroves, the petition had been filed. The MMRDA further submitted that it had also undertaken to complete compensatory afforestation of non-forest land in Borivli and that as the project was of public importance, the court should permit it to cut mangroves at Malwani and Poisar as well as along the Mithi river.

After hearing the MMRDA’s submissions, the court directed the appointment of an amicus curiae who would assist the court on this matter and placed the matter for hearing on July 22.

In 2018, the Bombay HC had held that in view of applicability of public trust doctrine, the state was duty bound to protect and preserve mangroves. The onus of granting permission to destroy mangroves was to be on the HC , which would determine if cutting mangroves was required in the larger public interest.

First Published: Jul 09, 2019 01:04 IST