Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the BMC to file its reply to a contempt petition for “wilful breach / disobedience” of May 2022 HC order with regard to removal of cycle and jogging tracks around Powai lake and its catchment areas. The HC, on May 6, 2022, had ruled that the BMC’s ambitious project is “illegal” and directed to remove it.
The HC had passed the direction while hearing two different public interest litigations (PILs) – one by two PhD researchers from IIT-Bombay (Omkar Supekar and Abhishek Tripathi), and the second one by NGO Vanashakti. The pleas had sought stay on the construction and sought directions to restore the site to its original form immediately.
During the hearing on Thursday, BMC advocate Joel Carlos said that the removal is taking time due to technical reasons and will end by June. “It’s a dedicated zone where we are removing it stage by stage,” said Carlos, adding that they had “no intention of disobeying the orders of the court”.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne suggested that the same should be removed by the end of May since monsoon season will begin in June, which could further delay the work. Carlos said that the corporation will file an affidavit clarifying its stand.
The contempt petition by Vanaskahti states that apart from causing pressure on the valuable yet deteriorating environment surrounding the lake, it is causing further disruption in the ecosystem by affecting the biological and ecological practices of the wildlife. Also, it is causing disturbances to the crocodiles in the lake, which is a documented marsh crocodile habitat. The HC has kept the matter for hearing on March 16.
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