The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that a crucial project at Hindmata, Dadar, for augmenting the storm water drain network in the flood-prone area is stalled due to the non-functioning Tree Authority.
The vacation bench of Justice A S Gadkari and Justice N J Jamadar were hearing three applications, including one moved by activist Zoru Bhathena stating that the newly-appointed committee to hear applications for felling trees is not according to the law laid down by this court.
The second application was filed by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) stating that its work on the car depot at Aarey for the Colaba-Andheri-SEEPZ Metro Line 3 had come to a halt as its application to fell trees was pending with the Tree Authority.
The third application was filed by the Tree Authority seeking permission to start functioning. Last month, BMC counsel Anil Sakhare told the court that the civic body has appointed four experts to hear the applications. These experts were selected from 37 applications that were received after the post was advertised.
The four experts nominated are Dr Chandrakant Salunkhe, head of horticulture department in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre; Dr Shashirekha Sureshkumar, member, Bombay Natural History Society and head of botany department in Mithibai College; Subhash Patne and Dr Manohar Sawant, former Tree Authority members.
Lawyer Sonal appearing for Bhathena told the court that the committee formed is not as per the law laid down by this court. The court has to see if the experts are qualified enough to decide the applications.
She further told the bench that according to the law, there should be five corporators and an equal number of experts on the committee.
While the counsel for BMC on Wednesday told the court that the committee is complete and as per the process, they will consider the application and take a decision as per the rules. The counsel further told the court that a crucial project for felling trees for augmenting the storm water drain network in the flood-prone Hindmata area is stalled due to the non-functioning Tree Authority. The counsel also told the court that there are public hospitals and crematorium in the area.
Counsel for MMRCL, G W Mattos told the court that the work on the car depot at Aarey for the Colaba-Andheri-SEEPZ Metro Line 3 is stalled for two years. The MMRCL has to bear a loss of Rs 4.2 crore daily due to this delay.
The bench, however, declined to grant any interim relief in all the three applications and posted the hearing on May 20.