Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

Mumbai: In yet another pressing development vs environment matter, the Bombay High Court on Friday restrained the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) from cutting mangroves for the proposed Versova-Bandra sea link.

The court has also asked the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment to explain the "contradictory" decisions taken by two of its separate departments.

A bench of Chief Justice PRA deep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre, however, allowed the MSRDC to cut mangroves within an area of 200 square meters, as permitted by the CRZ department of the Union ministry.

The bench turned down the request of the MSRDC, which relied heavily on the order of the forest department of the union ministry that allowed the authority to chop down mangroves within an area of over 30000 square meters.

The bench was dealing with a bunch of petitions, including those filed by activist Zoru Bhathena, challenging the move of the MSRDC to cut mangroves to such a large extent.

According to the activists, the CRZ department had specifically permitted the authority to cut mangroves only within 200 square metre area. However, the authorities turned a blind eye to this order and relied on the forest department's orders allowing mass destruction of mangroves.

This request of the activists was turned down earlier by another bench headed by Justice Bhushan Gavai; however, his orders were quashed by the Supreme Court and the matter was remitted to the High Court for fresh consideration.

Accordingly, the bench of CJ Nandrajog took up the matter for hearing on Friday and wanted to know why the MSRDC wanted to cut mangroves to such an extent.

The counsel for MSRDC informed the Bench that it has to construct the pillars for the proposed sea-link and thus has to cut mangroves at several sites like Carter road, Bandra and majorly at Versova.

separate orders, both contradicting each other. "We want to know from the ministry why there is a disparity in both the orders. While one department specifically allows only felling in a few meters, how can the other department turn a blind eye to this order and allow cutting to such an extent," the bench said.

"Let the ministry explain us to why such contradictory orders were passed. Till then, you (MSRDC) would only cut trees to the extent of 200 square meters, not beyond this limit," CJ clarified. The bench has accordingly adjourned the matter for further hearing.

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