Mumbai: The Bombay High Court was on Monday informed that the city civic body’s Tree Authority (TA) was in a haste to permit cutting down over 2600 trees at the Aarey Colony in western suburbs to pave way for the car shed of Metro III line.
The HC while noting the ‘impact’ on the environment by felling so many trees, quipped the government over the ongoing economic crisis.
A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre commenced hearing the final arguments in the petition filed by activist Zoru Bhathena challenging the Tree Authority’s decision to permit cutting of over 2600 trees in Aarey Colony.
Senior counsel Janak Dwarkadas, appearing for Bhathena argued that the decision was taken in haste and without any application of mind.
“This decision of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is arbitrary and contrary to the sole responsibility of the civic body, which is to preserve and prevent harm to greenery. We are not against the project but we think the city’s greenery is much important,” Dwarkadas submitted.
Dwarkadas further said, “The decision has been taken in a haste in order to ensure that all the permissions are given before the moral code of conduct is enforced in the city. They (civic officials) do not want the code of conduct to stop the construction work for the car shed.”
Having heard the submissions, CJ Nandrajog said that the dispute between the environment and the development was ‘vexed.’
“With all the best resources at their disposal if the government cannot manage the national economy then how can they manage the ecology,” CJ Nandrajog remarked.
The government have the best economists working for them but still something is lacking,” the chief justice added.
During the course of the hearing, Bhathena’s counsel Dwarkadas further informed the judges about the resignation of one of the five expert members of the TA.
“One expert, by an email to the BMC, said she was distressed to know that she and other experts of the TA were being accused of allowing cutting of trees at Aarey, which she would never allow.
Her email further states that no due process has been followed for the site visit and decision was taken in haste,” Dwarkadas said while reading out the email.
“The expert has said that the site visits were not proper as only some parts of it were accessed by them and not the entire area earmarked for the car shed.
The email further points out that most of the recommendations of these experts have not been accepted by the TA and thus she has decided to resign,” Dwarkadas said.
The senior counsel further read out a letter, jointly written by three experts, which specifically stated that they did not have adequate time to examine all trees in detail and thus only gave their observations and not any final recommendations.