Mumbai: It won’t be wrong to say that the city's green cover is under threat. After chopping down of 3000 trees at Aarey, the development authorities have got a green signal to cut more than 1000 trees in Mumbai and neighbouring areas.
The Bombay High Court has this time allowed cutting of nearly 1000 trees for the Metro IV line, which would be connecting Wa-dala to Thane and Kasarwadawli via Ghatkopar.
This ruling was made possible by the order of the high court lifting the 'blanket ban' on cutting of trees for this particular metro line.
The bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Riyaz Chagla on Wednesday noted that the ban was imposed by Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog in September this year. The CJ had ordered MMRDA not to touch a single tree till further orders.
However, when the assignment changed and the matter came up for hearing before Justice Dharmadhikari, the bench noted that the petitioner – Thane Nagrik Pratishtan – had failed to make changes in its petition copy.
The bench also noted that the petitioner NGO did not challenge the permission obtained by the MMRDA from the competent authority to cut down the trees, one month prior to the ban orders.
“We have not seen any challenge being laid to the process, particularly the permission granted to fell the trees. It is in these circumstances, when we find the petition is not being amended, that the ad interim order restraining the public body from implementing a public project is being lifted,’’ Justice Dharmadhikari said.
“We also see no justification for a blanket ban order, apart from it being ad interim ex parte; it does not assign any reason, nor is there any justification for its continuance despite an affidavit filed by the MMRDA,” Justice Dharmadhikari added.
The bench had before it a petition challenging the action of the MMRDA which wants to cut at least 30 trees and transplant over 900 others.
However, the green activists have claimed that transplanting the 900 trees would mean virtually killing them and thus have accused the authorities of planning to fell nearly 1000 trees for the Metro IV line.
The activists have also charged that the MMRDA did not obtain the requisite permissions and is proceeding to cut trees without proper green clearance.
The bench of Justice Dharmadhikari has now posted the matter on January 6, 2020, for further hearing, with an assurance that it would also consider the provisions of the Trees Act while deciding the matter.
The activists have however, decided to move the Supreme Court.