Mumbai News: Churchgate Residents Surprised By New Trees On Parking Ground Dug Up For Underground Metro

Mumbai News: Churchgate Residents Surprised By New Trees On Parking Ground Dug Up For Underground Metro

MMRCL also said it will explore the possibility for seeking legal opinion and file an application before the Election Commission for issuing the tender for Geo tagging work.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Monday, May 06, 2024, 11:19 PM IST
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The trees have been planted to compensate for the peepuls cut down at the site for the underground Metro rail. When the trees were cut down, residents of the area were sceptical that the traffic island's green cover would ever be restored. However, thanks to vigilant activists who approached the Bombay High Court-appointed committee to oversee compensatory plantations for trees lost during the Metro III construction ll, the traffic islands are now greener than ever before. 

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) which is building the Cuffe Parade-SEEPZ underground Metro, or Metro III, planted the trees only after a May 31 deadline was fixed on April 18 by the committee. The committee asked the MMRCL and other respondents, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to cover 70-75% of the traffic island with trees and landscaping.

At the meeting, civic activist Zoru Bathena, representing the petitioners in the 2017 petition against the felling of trees for the rail project, pointed out that as per the committee's directions, MMRCL had submitted the drawings of a total of 12 stations. As per the directions of the committee, the group visited the stations and found that except at Siddhivinayak Station, no trees were planted.

Details Of The Meeting Held By MMRCL

According to the minutes of the meeting, MMRCL informed the committee that they had planted 97 trees and removed roughly 2000 trees. The only place where they have put the trees back was Siddhivinayak Station which is under a playground.

Residents of Churchgate-Oval Maidan precinct said they were surprised by the sight of trees on the once bare traffic islands. When the trees were cut down in 2019, citizens had called it 'diabolic' and 'sad'.  The traffic island was being used as a parking lot before it was dug up for the Metro, but the ground had some large trees, said Nayana Kathpalia, trustee of Nagar and OVAL and a resident of Churcgate. "I am very happy that various trees have been planted in the traffic islands opposite the Eros Cinema. Hopefully, they will be looked after well and grow to their full potential," said Kathpalia.

Another issue discussed at the meeting was Geo tagging the trees planted. Bathena told the commission that MMRCL has said that they have not given any work order and that they cannot issue any work order because of the Election Code of Conduct. He pointed out that the government agencies building other Metro projects have been issuing tenders. An intervenor in the petition also told the committee that vendors have already encroached on footpaths rebuilt after the Metro construction.

MMRCL's Response And Further Steps

The advocate for MMRCL told the committee that they have completed 90% of the station work and every site excavated for the project will be restored. Tree plantings will be done after ascertaining the available depth and the landfill that can be done so that the roots of the trees do not disturb the underground utility services.

When the work of the stations is completed, they will keep the markings ready where the tree is to be planted. As regards Geo tagging, the committee was informed that the tender process will be started after June 4 after the completion of the election process. MMRCL also sought time till June as most of the stations will get completed and geo tagging will be done. It was also brought to the committee's notice that this was the ideal time for tree planting as the rainy season is coming.

MMRCL also said it will explore the possibility for seeking legal opinion and file an application before the Election Commission for issuing the tender for Geo tagging work. MMRCL did not respond to requests for a statement.

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