Mumbai: Tree Authority denies it felled trees for Metro 7

Mumbai: The Metro 7 line extending from Dahisar (east) to Andheri (east) on the Western Express Highway (WEH) has faced obstacles right at the start of the project due to felling of trees. Residents across the city have claimed that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have violated the Bombay High Court’s order which directed the BMC not to cut or destroy any trees on the WEH.

Over six trees were axed last week at the WEH at Malad (east) for the Metro 7 project. When the residents witnessed the felling of trees, they informed the activist who then referred to the court’s order. On February 3, 2016, Zoru Bhathena, a Khar resident, received the court’s direction in response for the public interest litigation that he had filed against cutting of trees on the WEH.

The Bombay High Court had then directed the BMC by passing an order which stated that the corporation should ensure that trees on WEH are neither cut nor destroyed.

Bhathena said, “The court’s order is still valid as there is no new direction given in this matter. And according to this order, not even one tree on the WEH can be harmed.” On the highway stretch at Kandivali (east), the onsite Metro workers informed that trees were cut in that area too and transplanted to Sanjay Gandhi National Park at Borivali. But the specific number of trees cut at that spot was unknown.

PRK Murthy, Director (Projects) Metro of MMRDA, said, “This Metro line is managed by MMRDA. We have cut trees only after taking the permission from the Tree Authority of the BMC.”

On the contrary, the Tree Authority has denied felling of trees for this project. Jitendra Pardeshi, senior tree officer of the Tree Authority, told the Free Press Journal, “We have granted permission for cutting of trees on the WEH but till now no tree has been cut over there. Till now, felling of trees has not taken place at the WEH.” On the court’s order, Pardeshi said, “The court’s order was for a different purpose and it is not related to this issue.”

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