A JUDICIAL committee set up by the Bombay High Court to look into felling of trees to make way for the Metro 3 line, told the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) on Thursday that while constructing the underground Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ corridor, it has to save as many trees as possible and also ensure that the transplanted trees live on.
In June 2017, the HC had appointed Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice A A Sayed to look into the grievance related to felling of trees as part of Metro construction. In the absence of Justice Mahanty, Justice Sayed on Thursday addressed the issue.
On the submission of assistant government pleader G W Mattos, appearing for MMRCL, that some trees need pruning and some will have to be felled for the construction of the Metro line, Justice Sayed said that “as much as possible trees should be saved”.
The committee was informed that from May 2017 to November 2018, 1,453 trees were transplanted, of which, 659 are alive, 161 are under observation and 633 are dead.
Activist Zoru Bhathena, a petitioner against the felling of trees, said that the survival rate of trees is 50 per cent and is likely to decrease in future. Mattos, however, said that the MMRCL consults an expert in this connection as an when it requires and that he has visited Mumbai several times.
Justice Sayed told the MMRCL that if the expert visits Mumbai quite often, a hearing can be arranged on the day of such a visit so that he can share his knowledge on transplantation of trees.
“Someone who loves trees will come anyway. There is an increase (in number of trees dying), all the more reason for him to come,” Justice Sayed said.
Stating that there is a need for an expert agency to give its opinion on saving the trees, he added, “We are all interested in survival of trees. We are all concerned for our next generation.”
Adjourning the hearing, Justice Sayed asked the Mumbai civic body to appoint an expert to draft guidelines on transplantation of trees.