Mumbai: The Bombay high court has asked the Maharashtra government to take necessary steps every year for maintenance of the paths, trails and rides at Mahabaleshwar while hearing a plea which sought its maintenance as ordered by the heritage committee.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne were hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking implementation of the order of the heritage committee formed under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act for Satara, Wai Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar area.
Government informed about proposal awaiting clearance to maintain paths, trails, and rides at 26 places
The Maharashtra government had informed that Rs 60 lakh proposal has been given to MTDC and once it is approved, the paths, trails, and rides at 26 places will be maintained in the proper condition. It was also informed that the forest department takes steps every year to keep the trails properly maintained by restoring those damaged due to heavy rainfall, landslides and other reasons.
The PIL filed by 10 nature lovers and trekkers, some of whom reside in eco-sensitive zone of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, sought directions for conservation, restoration and maintenance of the trails and walking paths. According to their advocate Ajinkya Udane, these paths are being used since at least 1862 and so have heritage status. Hence, it was the responsibility of the concerned officer to revive and maintain those which are destroyed due to weather conditions.
Plea sought appointment of committee to oversee restoration works
In order to oversee and supervise the restoration work and ensure it is implemented in a timely manner, the plea sought the appointment of a supervising committee, which would include local NGOs and nature lovers.
Thirty forest rides and paths have been accepted by the heritage committee on September 13, 2019, as an integral part of the heritage of Mahabaleshwar but are not properly maintained, claimed the plea. It added that signages on said paths are required to be displayed for the benefit of trekkers.
Forest department taking efforts to restore trails and rides: Assistant Government Pleader Manish Pabale
Assistant Government Pleader Manish Pabale submitted an affidavit filed by the assistant conservator of forest (afforestation), Satara, which stated that the department has been taking efforts to restore the trails and rides every year and has sent a proposal to the MTDC, which is not yet approved. It said that once Rs 60 lakh is received from the MTDC, the paths, trails and rides will be maintained in proper condition.
Accepting the statement, the HC disposed of the PIL. “The respondents shall take necessary steps for maintenance of the paths, trails and rides, effectively, every year. With these observations, the PIL stands disposed of,” observed the court.
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