The Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra government to specify if hand-rickshaw pullers and horse cart services have resumed at the hill station Matheran. This comes after the HC was informed that despite its orders, not a single tempo has been allowed to enter Matheran to provide goods and services.
A bench of Justice Anil Menon was informed that despite a specific order on June 2, allowing tempos to enter the hill station and provide essentials for the locals, nothing has been implemented and the residents there continue to be left in the lurch.
The bench was dealing with a plea filed by Suresh Lad, a former MLA of Matheran, highlighting the plight of the locals at the hill station due to the lockdown. The plea stated that due to the lockdown, no hand-pulled or horse carts have been operating and this has affected the local residents, as there is a scarcity of essentials in the region.
Notably, the HC had on June 2, specifically ordered the authorities to consider allowing electric vehicles to load LPG cylinders and leave them at the core-sensitive area of the hill station.
On Friday, when the matter came up for hearing, advocate Gaurav Parkar, appearing for Lad, told the bench that despite its earlier order, no tempo service has commenced because the authorities have not hired Bharat Stage VI compliant vehicles. He further said that no goods vehicles complying with Bharat Stage VI specifications are presently registered with the local Regional Transport Office.
Parkar further stated that even the train service which had commenced was found to be inconvenient, since it departs at 1pm, which is not suitable for carriage of essential commodities.
When questioned, the government counsel claimed to have no instructions from the monitoring committee, as the members are still busy dealing with the aftermath of Cyclone Nisarga.
"I must observe here that the last order of June 2 had taken into consideration the fact that the committee was preoccupied. It would be appropriate in the situation that the committee meets at least by video conference, since it is obvious that a physical meeting may not be convened in a hurry," Justice Menon said.
Further, the counsel appearing for railways stated that he would apprise the bench on the next date of hearing as to whether the train services could be rescheduled to a time convenient to all concerned.
"In the meanwhile the authorities shall inform as to when meeting of the monitoring committee will be held so as to find an appropriate solution to the problem faced by the residents," Justice Menon ordered.
Meanwhile, government pleader Manish Pabale submitted that the lockdown is no longer in force in Matheran and handcarts and horses are now carrying goods and essential commodities to the hill station. However, his submission was disputed by Parkar, who stated that handcarts are not being operated, since there is no tourism and this has left residents in the lurch.
"These are aspects on which the government counsel is expected to obtain instructions on, in addition to ascertaining the date of the proposed meeting of the monitoring committee," the bench said, while adjourning the matter till June 23.