The Bombay High Court has directed an interim monitoring committee formed under Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to decide Friday on urgent basis on whether to grant relief to nearly 30,000 residents of Matheran and neighbouring villages during lockdown by allowing essential supplies vehicles to reach core eco-sensitive area of the hill station on regular basis while following pollution norms.
A single-judge bench of Justice S J Kathawalla Thursday passed the order through videoconference on plea filed by former MLA Suresh Narayan Lad that stated the hill station residents, tribals and cattle farmers, are dependent on the town for their livelihood and daily supply for essential items. The court was informed that as Matheran is an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ), and no vehicular movement beyond Dasturi Point was allowed, except for ambulances and vehicles of fire brigade and solid waste management.
Advocate Gaurav Parkar told the court that goods were transported into the town through hand-pulled horse carts, but since the lockdown, many handcart-pullers were unavailable.
The bench noted, “The residents of Matheran are unable to procure items of daily necessity and sustenance, or have to pay an extra amount for the same in these difficult times.”
Justice Kathawalla directed the committee, formed under the chairmanship of Konkan Divisional Commissioner on May 13, to arrive at a decision on Friday “keeping in mind the rights of the residents to obtain such necessary supplies to sustain life”. It posted the hearing on May 16.
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