Mumbai: The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) undertaking the Bandra-Colaba-SEEPZ, Metro 3 work has completed 50 per cent of the underground tunnelling work, which was announced by the project officials on Monday.
Interestingly, although the authority is undertaking the civil work in full swing, they remain mum on the plantation drive. While this Free Press Journal reporter had repeatedly sent queries on what steps had been taken to increase the green cover of the city, after the authority being lambasted by activists and environmentalists for mercilessly felling the trees and proposing more tree transplantation for other metro-related work.
Zoru Bhathena, a member of the Bombay High Court, who formed trees' inspection committee pertaining to Metro 3, alleged that MMRCL has no will to take up the plantation drive. Justifying his criticism he added.
"They signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SNGP) to plant trees in the degraded land parcels. Interestingly, in a bid to increase the forest cover, usually, the government takes up such plantation. Meaning even if the MMRCL had not been part of this plantation in SNGP, this would have anyhow happened."
The MMRCL in 2017 during monsoon has claimed to have planted around 21,000 trees in the national park. Besides this, the agreement also includes that MMRCL will be maintaining these trees for seven years.
Adding further Bhathena criticised MMRCL for taking no efforts to increase the green cover of the city. He alleged, "During their trees inspection visit, the survival rate of transplanted trees have been observed a drop.
We have a list of trees that are transplanted and we physically conduct a site inspection of those trees. Earlier we (the HC trees inspection committee) used to count dead trees, but now the living trees are less than the dead trees."
Moreover, the MMRCL has ensured HC that after the metro construction work is completed trees will be planted on the original location. But so far no convincing presentation has been made by the authority, claimed Bhathena.
Meanwhile, the MMRCL appreciating their efforts for completing 50 per cent of the proposed 56-kilometre tunnelling on the Metro 3 corridor in a span of 19 months informed that further 19 more breakthroughs are awaited on this metro alignment.