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HC restrains MMRDA from felling 23 trees in Thane till 115 saplings are planted

The HC, on June 12 had directed the MMRDA to transplant trees under the supervision of the Tree Authority and a site supervision was undertaken by all stakeholders including petitioner.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai | Published: July 4, 2020 12:00:47 am
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The Bombay High Court on Friday restrained the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) from felling 23 trees for the construction of a freeway from Airoli to Katai Naka,, unless it plants 115 saplings as per the report of the Tree Authority, Thane.

The MMRDA informed the Court that it had complied with compulsory compensatory forestation and hence sought permission to fell 23 trees.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice N J Jamadar heard through videoconference an interim application filed by the MMRDA in public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Rohit Joshi.

MMRDA, through advocates Saket Mone and Subit Chakrabarti told the Court that on June 12, the HC had permitted MMRDA to transplant 69 trees and fell 23 trees for the freeway and it had complied with the requirements.

The HC, on June 12 had directed the MMRDA to transplant trees under the supervision of the Tree Authority and a site supervision was undertaken by all stakeholders including petitioner. The Authority and petitioner expressed satisfaction on the proposed site. Authority through advocate J G Reddy said that as per precondition, MMRDA has to plant 115 saplings for the proposed felling of 23 trees over and above the 69 trees that were to be transplanted.

Advocate Ankit Kulkarni for petitioner Rohit Joshi said that the MMRDA’s stand that since it had already planted more than a thousand saplings, it did not have to plant any more was uncalled for.

The bench accepted the submissions by the Tree Authority and directed the MMRDA that over and above the saplings that have already been planted, it shall be under a duty to plant 115 saplings more in identified site under supervision of Tree Authority and see to it the purpose of compensatory forestation has been achieved.

Disposing of the interim application, the bench said, “Once this direction is complied with, the applicant MMRDA shall be at liberty to fell the trees that have been permitted to be felled by the Tree Authority and thereafter proceed with the development project it has undertaken for the benefit of the people at large.”

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