The Bombay High Court on Thursday told the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to grant hearing to residents objecting to the tree cutting proposal for the Metro car shed project.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Preeti Menon and Ruben Mascarenhas, Aam Aadmi Party leaders and social activists through lawyer Rakesh Singh, seeking a direction to stop the “indiscriminate premature felling of trees inside Aarey colony” till permissions are obtained to construct the metro car shed/metro station.
The petition says that on September 29, while driving past Aarey Colony, Menon happened to see trees being felled along Aarey Marol Road. “On making inquiries, she learnt that the approach ramp and road to the car shed were being constructed… It was seen that more than 100 huge trees were cut and many more were being surveyed. It is the estimation of the petitioner that almost 400 or more full-grown trees are being slated for chopping,” the petition says.
BMC counsel Nayaran Bubna told the court that on Wednesday, around 2,000 people turned up at the first hearing, but the civic and Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) officials left midway through the hearing, without resolving each person’s issues.
Bubna further told the court that they had not expected a large number of people to turn up for the hearing. They will hold another public hearing soon and respond to the written objections.
An affidavit was filed by Charus Jadhav, the chief project manager, MMRC, which said that the MMRC has not removed a single tree for Metro 3 construction without obtaining permission from the tree authority. The MMRC counsel told the court that they have carried out replantation at an alternative plot and in the past, 60 per cent of the transplanted trees have survived.
Acting Chief Justice Naresh H Patil and Justice G S Kulkarni, disposing off the petition, asked the BMC to give hearing to the residents and directed the BMC’s tree authority to publish on its website the details of the permission granted for cutting trees for the car shed.