Bombay HC Panel Threatens Action After MMRCL Fails On Metro-3 Tree Restoration Pledge

Bombay HC Panel Threatens Action After MMRCL Fails On Metro-3 Tree Restoration Pledge

Corporation tells judges it will be able to restore only 40% of the trees axed for construction of metro stations

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Tuesday, December 19, 2023, 02:03 AM IST
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Bombay HC Panel Threatens Action After MMRCL Fails On Metro-3 Tree Restoration Pledge | File

Irked by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited’s (MMRCL) statement on Monday that it will be able to restore only 40% of the trees axed for construction of the metro stations, the Bombay High Court Metro-3 Tree Committee headed by two sitting high court judges said it will refer the matter back to the high court to deal with this blatant breach of undertaking.

Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Sarang Kotwal of the HC also asked MMRCL and the BMC to use 50% of the area available outside Eros Cinema at Churchgate in South Mumbai for tree plantation.

Background details of case

On May 7, 2017, the high court had directed MMRCL to give an undertaking that it will replant the trees and care for them till the completion of the project. As per this undertaking, MMRCL is obligated to restore all the removed tree cover at every station, after its work is completed.

The committee was formed following a plea by Nina Verma and Parvin Jehangir along with Zoru Bhathena highlighting the damage that would be caused to the environment due to felling of over 5,000 trees for the project. This committee was to look into the tree cover that was removed by MMRCL for the Metro3 line. And in case if it found that anything was wrong, it was to refer the matter back to the court.

MMRCL informs HC of non availability of place for planting trees

During the hearing on Monday evening, MMRCL informed the HC committee it will be able to restore only about 40% of the tree cover as there was no place left for planting trees at station sites. Reminding the corporation of its undertaking, the judges warned that they would refer the matter back to the court for breach of its undertaking.

The MMRCL representative informed the committee that its tree plantation plans are not yet final and it will endeavour to replace maximum of the tree cover that was lost. He said that a tree restoration plan was ready for only two stations so far and a draft plan is ready for two other stations, from a total 26 stations.

Junior committee to investigate status of 600-odd trees from Aarey

The HC committee then asked its junior committee to inspect these four stations on December 20 along with petitioners and submit a report on the ground reality. The MMRCL has also been directed to make their Tree GeoTag data e-accessible (as paper data is of no use to check geotagged locations of trees).

Bhathena pointed out to the HC committee that the 600-odd trees uprooted from Aarey Milk Colony in suburban Goregaon have vanished. They are neither at the site, nor is there any data of them being replanted, he said. The committee has directed the junior committee to investigate the status of these 600-odd transplanted trees from Aarey.

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