You Can’t keep cutting trees for Metro line, HC tells MMRCL
The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday said authorities must maintain environmental balance and take care of ecology while constructing projects of huge magnitude like the Mumbai Metro. “Just because you want to construct a Metro line, it does not mean you will go on cutting trees,” said the bench of chief justice Naresh Patil and justice Nitin Jamdar.
The bench was hearing an application filed by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL), seeking direction to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to constitute a tree authority committee expeditiously. MMRCL’s proposal for tree-cutting for the Metro car shed at Aarey Colony has been upheld from July 2017 for want of a duly constituted tree authority.
The plea was filed in a pending public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Zoru Bhathena that had challenged the validity of a 2017 amendment to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act that empowered the municipal commissioner to decide on proposals to remove, fell or transplant up to 25 trees.
The bench had earlier directed BMC to speed up appointment of experts on their tree authority committee. On Monday, BMC appointed four expert members on its committee. But, the newly-constituted body will not be able to take up the tree-cutting proposals filed by MMRCL, as the high court on Monday had directed BMC to file an application seeking approval for the appointment of the four experts.
The directive came after Bhathena’s lawyer, advocate Sonal, pointed to an earlier high court order, which requires BMC to file a fresh plea and seek approval of its duly constituted tree authority committee. The lawyer also complained that the experts appointed did not meet the required criteria under the Maharashra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act.