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Pointing to the importance of the upcoming Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRCL)’s Metro Line III project in easing commuter woes in Mumbai, the Bombay High Court Wednesday said that while the Metro has to come up, they are equally concerned about the environmental aspects of the project. The High Court has now reserved its order in the matter relating to the construction of Metro Line III after hearing submissions of different parties.
A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni were hearing two petitions — one by Pervin Jehangir challenging the legality of the metro construction, and another by Nina Verma against cutting of trees in Churchgate, Hutatma Chowk and Cuffe Parade. Around 5,000 trees have to be cut to pave the way for the SEEPZ-Colaba Metro Line III project. “Primarily Metro has to come to Mumbai. Considering the traffic woes people are suffering from, Metro needs to come to ease them out. Now, we will have to see what is more important, the life of a human being or the life of trees,” Chief Justice Chellur said.
The High Court had earlier directed the MMRCL to not cut any trees till further orders. Arguing against this order, MMRCL’s senior counsel Aspi Chinoy Wednesday said, “The order directing the stay on cutting of trees needs to be vacated since it is causing a lot of damage to the project. A lot of work needs to be completed before the monsoon. Trenches, which have been dug up, needs to be filled out after the necessary work is finished.” Chinoy added that the MMRCL was ready to abide by its undertaking to the court regarding planting and transplanting of trees. Moreover, for every tree that it cuts around the Metro station site, the same number will be re-planted on the site after the construction of the Metro station.
With the High Court earlier asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to clarify their stand on the Metro project, the ministry Wednesday informed the court that since Metro was a state project, the clearance, if any, will have to be taken from the state authority, Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA). “The MoEF has left the matter to the state authority, stating it is not concerned with cutting of trees. Which authority is then going to look into the environmental aspect?”questioned senior Counsel Janak Dwarkadas, appearing for Verma. The court, meanwhile, suggested setting up of a committee to inspect if the MMRCL was complying with its undertaking.