The Bombay High Court on Tuesday allowed clearing of mangroves to make way for the construction of Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro 3 project in the Coastal Regulatory Zone (1) area by clearing 108 mangroves. A division bench of justices V M Kanade and M S Sonak was hearing a notice of motion by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) seeking approval to remove 108 mangroves to make way for BKC metro station.
The MMRCL, in the last hearing, had informed the court that BKC and Dharavi stations fall under the CRZ 1area and while 108 mangroves will have to be cut at BKC, there are no mangroves in Dharavi area.
The Bombay Environment Action Group informed the court on Tuesday that it was not satisfied with the way approvals were sought and given for the construction of these stations. The court was informed that while MMRCL had ensured there would not be any cutting of mangroves, the authorities went ahead and modified the sanction and allowed cutting of mangroves.
In the last hearing, a resident of Cuff Parade had opposed the chopping of mangroves and stated that the project is in violation of law and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) had not given permission for the underground stations in CRZ 1 areas and the notification pointed at construction of stations only on stilts. The court, while acknowledging the efforts to preserve the environment, asked the citizens and activists to consider the ground reality before opposing the project and to take a “pragmatic view”.
“There should be a balance between environmental concerns and ground reality. Traffic situation has become unbearable and therefore a public utility like metro is a necessity in the city,” said justice Kanade.
The MMRCL informed the court that the mangroves would be replanted, five times more than the existing ones. The court, while allowing the chopping of mangroves to make way for the Metro project, said, “We allow the construction to be carried out with an undertaking from the State that the mangroves will be replanted and restored, subject to all the clearances and permissions.”