The Bombay high court on Thursday asked the activists to file an application before the Supreme Court regarding felling of more number of trees than permitted by the apex court for construction of metro car shed at Aarey Milk Colony in suburban Goregaon.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne also said that the petitioners - activist Zoru Bathena and NGO Vanashakti – can raise a grievance before the Tree Authority (TA).
The HC then disposed of the public interest litigations (PILs) challenging the Brihanmumbai municipal Corporation (BMC) notice calling for suggestions and objections for removal of 171 trees at Aarey Colony.
Decision to cut 171 trees was in violation of Apex court order
The petitioners contended that the decision to cut 171 trees was in violation of Apex court order. However, MMRCL counsel, Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, argued that when they filed the application, four years back, it was for felling of 84 trees, but with the passage of time, the small saplings and shrubs have grown into trees, requiring more number of trees to be cut.
During the hearing on Thursday, the HC suggested that the petitioners point out the SC’s order to the TA wherein it has granted permission to fell only 84 trees. To this, Vanashakti’s advocate Zaman Ali informed the court that they have already raised the objection with the TA.
The HC said that since no final order has been passed by tree authority, it is for authority to consider whether those beyond 84 are shrubs.
Seek interpretation from SC on its earlier order
The judges also said that since the matter was still pending before the apex court, it cannot decide on the issue and hence the petitioners could file an application before the Supreme Court seeking interpretation of its earlier order.
An application was filed by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) seeking permission to remove 84 trees for the car shed project as per the relief granted by the Supreme Court. However, on January 12, the Tree Authority of the BMC issued a notice following the MMRCL’s application, calling for objections and suggestions for felling of 177 trees.
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