THE BOMBAY High Court Friday refused to grant a stay on cutting of trees for the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro 3 project. The vacation bench of Justice PD Naik and Justice MS Karnik was hearing an application filed by Mumbai resident Nina Verma and an intervention plea by one Kunal Birwadkar. The two had claimed that trees were being cut indiscriminately, including those not required for the Metro 3 project. Birwadkar had claimed to have “observed that trees meant to be transplanted at other spots were also being chopped”.
Senior counsel Anil Sakhare appearing for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation submitted that the trees were being cut following the due process of law after permission from the Tree Authority of Mumbai. Senior advocate Mustafa Doctor, appearing for the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited, too submitted that trees were being cut in accordance with the plan and sanction given by the Tree Authority.
The BMC further stated that a junior tree officer would oversee compliance with regard to the replantation and transplantation of the trees.
The court observed that there was no need to grant a stay and adjourned the hearing till June 5. On Wednesday, after Birwadkar filed an application, the HC had directed the MMRCL to present its say.
Earlier, in February, the HC had restrained all authorities from cutting trees after concerns were raised by city residents. The stay was vacated in May, stating that a balance between environment and development was needed.
The bench had directed the appointment of the Member secretary of Maharashtra Legal Services Authority and the deputy registrar of the Bombay High Court to oversee the compliance of the undertaking given by the MMRCL.
It had also directed that compliance be reported from time to time, preferably each month, to a committee of two HC Judges as nominated by the Chief Justice.
Recently, residents in Churchgate have scaled up protests against tree felling for the Metro 3 project.