'Will Cut Only 10,582 Mangroves For Pipeline,' BPCL Informs Bombay High Court

'Will Cut Only 10,582 Mangroves For Pipeline,' BPCL Informs Bombay High Court

BPCL has undertaken a project to lay underground 43km-long pipelines for transporting petroleum products that will pass through its refinery, Mumbai Port Trust Authority, CIDCO and private lands.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Friday, February 09, 2024, 03:00 AM IST
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The Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) has informed the Bombay high court on Thursday that it will cut only 10,582 mangrove trees and no other terrestrial trees while laying pipelines from its refinery in Mahul, Chembur to Rasayani in Raigad district.

BPCL has undertaken a project to lay underground 43km-long pipelines for transporting petroleum products that will pass through its refinery, Mumbai Port Trust Authority, CIDCO and private lands.

It filed an affidavit before the HC which is hearing an application filed by activist Zoru Bathena urging the court to recall its January 23 order allowing BPCL to cut 11,677 trees, including mangrove trees, for laying of the pipelines.

“It is true that 10,582 mangrove trees and 1,095 terrestrial trees have been identified for cutting. However, there will be cutting of only mangrove trees and no terrestrial trees will be cut,” BPCL’s reply read.

In view of September 2017 order of the high court which mandated its permission for felling of trees, BPCL had approached the high court. BPCL had contended that the pipeline was crucial for transportation of petroleum products due to non-availability of the railways which would reduce road traffic. Also, it would reduce losses on accounts of loading and unloading operations.

Seeking recall of its orders, Bathena contended that the court was “misled” into passing an order granting permission. He pointed out that the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), in December last year, directed that no trees should be cut in the forest and no forest surface should be cut.

BPCL has undertaken not to break forest surface except two openings for horizontal directional drilling. “It is thus clear that the pipeline is planned to be constructed underground, below the forest surface, without breaking the forest surface above and without cutting any trees in the forest areas,” Bathena’s plea read.

The petroleum company justified that while the pipelines are to be laid underground without breaking the forest surface, “it is true only in respect of terrestrial trees and not in respect of marshy land”.

It also claimed that it has paid Rs7.13 crore to the forest department against compensatory afforestation levies and Rs92 lakh for raising 25,000 seedlings. Further, it has also paid to other authorities as required.

A bench of Justices AS Chandurkar and Jitendra Jain, on Thursday, asked Bhathena to respond to BPCL’s affidavit and kept the matter for hearing on Friday.

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