The Bombay High Court on Monday said that Mumbai city wants both Metro and trees and there is a need to strike a balance between the environment and new development projects. The court made these observations while hearing a plea seeking protection of trees from being cut for road widening projects in the city.A bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Nitin Jamdar also sought to know from the Metro III authorities and the BMC if trees are being transplanted scientifically. “Go to any city in the world, you will see both Metro and trees. Let us be clear that we want both Metro and trees. We cannot have either this or that,” remarked Chief Justice Patil.The observation was made in response to submissions made by activist Zoru Bhathena and a resident of Dahisar, who informed the bench of numerous road widening and Metro III works, which are being carried out in the city. The activists, further informed that the authorities – BMC and the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) – are continuing to cut trees and not planting new ones.The contentions were denied by the counsels appearing for both the authorities, who were interrupted with the bench saying, “If you green the city and do your work properly, why will people come before us.” The bench further said that the authorities must consider using scientific procedures for transplanting trees and directed the authorities to submit data spelling out the survival rate of such trees.
“Also, we think the contention of the petitioners (Bhathena) is somewhat correct. The authorities must consider replanting trees to a site closer to the area, where the trees were initially felled,” CJ Patil said. Meanwhile, the bench also pulled up the BMC for further delaying appointment of the Tree Authority (TA), which deals with applications seeking to fell or cut trees for public utility projects.The bench was irked over submissions of the BMC counsel, who sought some more time for deciding on the 36 applications, the civic body has received from people desiring to become a member of the TA. The counsel cited enforcement of the model code of conduct (from Sunday) for delay in the reconstitution of TA. “We fail to understand what the TA has to do with the code of conduct. How will this get affected?” said CJ Patil.“Everything does not stop because of the code of conduct. Will you stop your tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that are being used for Metro construction across the city? These (TA appointments) are all administrative works of the government, so ensure that what is necessary does not come to a halt,” CJ Patil said. The bench will hear the matters next on Thursday.
Tags: Zoru Bhathena | Mumbaikars | MMRCL | Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) | Tree Authority | Trees | Citizen Activist