The Bombay High Court on Monday directed a committee of two judges to look into grievances of residents with respect to cutting of trees to pave way for the construction of Metro 3. A city resident, Kunal Birwadkar, had filed an application before the court alleging that the authorities were undertaking illegal and indiscriminate felling of trees by chopping off those trees that had not been slotted to be cut for the project. The application points out that trees that were to be transplanted to another spot are also being cut.
The court, referring to a Supreme Court judgement, said that a two-member committee comprising Justice Shantanu Kemkar and Justice B R Gavai has been set up by the high court to look into such grievances. Refusing to hear the application, a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice N M Jamdar said: “We will not interfere in the matter. We have set up a committee and the court’s order on vacating the stay on felling of trees has been upheld by the Supreme Court. All grievances can go to the committee.”
The municipal corporation’s counsel Anil Sakhare informed the court that frequent inspection is being conducted across sites where trees are to be cut and the due process of law is being followed.
Last month, the high court had vacated the stay on felling of trees for the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro 3 project stating that a balance between environment and development was needed. The move came three months after the court had restrained all authorities from cutting trees after city residents had raised environmental concerns.
The residents had approached the Supreme Court after the stay was vacated and the apex court had upheld the high court order. The high court had also directed the appointment of the member secretary of Maharashtra Legal Services Authority and the deputy registrar of the Bombay High Court to oversee the compliance of the undertaking given by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL).