The forest department submitted photographs to the Bombay High Court on Thursday of the spot where the cycle track was being constructed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Amrita Bhattacharjee and three others opposing the 36km project called ‘Green Wheels Along Blue Lines’, calling it “illegal and unauthorised”. The PIL states that it poses serious hazards to the lake ecosystem and falls foul of the provisions of the Guidelines for Implementation of the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017.
Following court direction, the petitioner activist, a forest range officer and a BMC officer visited the proposed cycle track site at SGNP for joint inspection on Wednesday. The photographs of the inspection were submitted which showed that the cycle track was on the other side of the forest.
BMC advocate Joel Carlos informed the court that the cycle track that was completed was not on the part reserved as a forest, since it built was on the already existing 25-foot trolley track at SGNP. The photographs show that the cycle track was there even earlier which was damaged during some work on the pipeline. It has been in use for long, he added.
However, the petitioner’s counsel Mihir Desai said that the work on the proposed cycle was incomplete and sought to stay on further construction.
The judges, while not staying any work, said that due to rival contentions the PIL will have to be heard at length. The HC has kept the PIL for hearing on November 14.
The plea contends that development activities in this environmentally sensitive area have the “potential to cause severe ecological imbalance with disastrous consequences, including increasing the impact of natural disasters such as flooding that have been a matter of concern for the people in the city”.