THE BOMBAY High Court on Wednesday allowed Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) to proceed with the felling of over 1,500 mangrove trees for the construction of Versova-Bandra Sea Link. The High Court vacated an earlier interim stay after perusing clarifications issued by the environment and forest ministry and a coastal regulation zone (CRZ) nod. The court also granted liberty to the petitioner challenging the felling of mangrove trees to separately challenge the permissions.
On September 20 last year, the HC had directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to explain the two permissions granted for the Versova-Bandra Sea Link. The HC had then restrained MSRDC from cutting any mangrove trees, except from the 200 sq m area required to construct 10 pillars for this section of the sea link.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni on Wednesday was informed by MSRDC that earlier this year, it revised the permissions and clarifications for felling 1,585 mangrove trees in the area measuring 2.99 hectares, and that the earlier stay be vacated to enable construction.
The MoEFCC, while approved under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, had granted in-principle approval to fell over 1,500 trees by treating the forest land to be diverted for the road.
Activist Zoru Bathena, opposing MSRDC’s claim, said there were discrepancies in various permissions granted to the project and urged the court not to vacate the stay.
The court, however, vacated the stay in view of clarifications issued by MoEFCC and gave liberty to Bathena to independently challenge the same.
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