The Bombay High Court today said it has appointed two of its senior sitting judges to head a committee to look into grievances pertaining to cutting of trees for setting up the Metro-III line in the city. A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice N M Jamdar refused to hear an application filed by city resident Kunal Birwadkar alleging that the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) was illegally felling even those trees for which they didn’t have permission, or those that had been marked for transplantation at alternative spots. “We have appointed Justice S M Kemkar and Justice B R Gavai to head the committee. The Supreme Court in its order upholding our order of vacating the stay on cutting of trees has said if anyone has any further grievance they should approach the committee. We will not interfere now,” Chief Justice Chellur said.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) counsel Anil Sakhare informed the court that two members of the committee have visited the 26 sites where trees were to be cut for inspection and will submit a report. Over 5,000 trees are proposed to be cut in various areas of South Mumbai to pave way for the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro line III project. The high court had earlier granted stay on the cutting of trees, but on May 5 it vacated its stay and gave a go-ahead to MMRCL to cut the trees after observing that a balance needs to be established between development and environment.
The court had allowed MMRCL to cut the trees on an undertaking by the corporation that for each tree it would cut in south Mumbai, another one would be planted at the same spot after the construction work is over. This would be in addition to three saplings that the authority would plant in suburban Mumbai for every tree they cut. The 33-km line-III project is a part of the Metro system which will connect the Cuffe Parade business district in South Mumbai to SEEPZ in the city’s north-central suburb.