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Mumbai: HC nod to resume Metro work at night in SoBo, but with riders

The Bombay high court on Friday allowed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) to work round-the-clock to build the Metro-3 line in south Mumbai — provided the MMRCL puts in place measures to reduce the noise from construction work.

mumbai Updated: Aug 25, 2018 00:58 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Mumba metro,Metro 3
An earlier high court order had stopped MMRCL from carrying out any construction between 10pm and 6am.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)

The Bombay high court on Friday allowed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) to work round-the-clock to build the Metro-3 line in south Mumbai — provided the MMRCL puts in place measures to reduce the noise from construction work.

A division bench of acting Chief Justice Naresh Patil and justice Girish Kulkarni vacated an August 11, 2017 order of another bench of the court, and allowed MMRCL to work between 10pm and 6am.

The 2017 order had stopped MMRCL from working at night, acting on a petition filed by advocate Robin Jaisinghani, who had complained about the high noise levels from the equipment used in the construction work.

Chief Justice Patil and justice Kulkarni, however, told the MMRCL that it will have to put in place measures to reduce the noise from construction works on the metro line, as recommended by the National Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

Earlier, NEERI had submitted a report to the high court with suggestions such as placing noise barriers around the

construction sites, and using sound mufflers around the equipment.

Further, the bench asked the state government to set up, within a week, an effective grievance redressal system in case citizens have complaints about the noise levels. The mechanism should allow citizens to lodge complaints either through the telephone or emails, or to a designated officer who is available on the site 24x7.

The state had earlier assured the court that it will attend to all complaints of noise levels exceeding the prescribed limits – 10 decibels and more, immediately. During Friday’s hearing, advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, who argued for MMRCL, called Metro-3 a “project of immense public importance”, as Mumbai’s transport system had reached a saturation point. He said other parts of the line had made substantial progress, but this segment – between the proposed stations at Cuffe Parade and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus – had not even started because of the high court order. Every day of delay was causing a loss of ₹4.5 crore to the public exchequer, Kumbhakoni said, and added that it was necessary for MMRCL to work at night to meet the pace of work on other segments.

During the 2017 hearing, Jaisinghani — who lives in Dalamal Tower, which is next to the proposed Cuffe Parade station — had said the work was being carried out in violation of noise pollution rules, and an August 2016 judgment of the high court that held no noise-emitting equipment can be used in residential areas between 10pm and 6am.He said MMRCL got approvals for construction from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) on the condition that no construction will be done at night.

On Friday, Jaisinghani opposed MMRCL’s plea saying the right to sleep in a noise-free environment had been recognised by the Supreme Court as a fundamental right, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. He said the high court cannot exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction to permit an entity to violate that fundamental right. The lawyer further pointed out that Mumbai’s noise levels were already unbearable, and the study conducted by NEERI found prevailing noise levels in Cuffe Parade well above the limits prescribed by the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, for residential areas.

Jaisinghani further argued that MMRCL was an instrument of the state, and that it was the responsibility of the state to maintain ambient noise levels.

The bench, however, vacated the stay saying, “We cannot be oblivious to the urgent need for better transport facilities, neither can we adopt a hard approach which would frustrate the project of such magnitude.” The judges said they could not overlook the benefit the public will get when the project is ready, and agreed that the current transport facilities in the city were falling short of the needs of lakhs of commuters, and that on an average, nine people were losing their lives while travelling on the suburban railway lines because of the crowd.

“If the object (of the metro rail project) is to unburden the transport system, some inconvenience in putting the system in place is required to be tolerated for larger public benefits,” the court said. Ashwini Bhide, MMRCL managing director, said they would not like to comment on the matter until they study the court order.

First Published: Aug 25, 2018 00:58 IST