The Bombay High Court today stayed for two weeks the tunnelling work near the heritage JN Petit Institute building in south Mumbai for the proposed Metro III line along the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz route. The stay follows apprehensions that the tunnelling work was damaging the foundations of several heritage and iconic buildings in the area, including the 119-year-old JN Petit building. A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice N M Jamdar also directed that a committee be constituted to study the effects of such tunnelling work on buildings, and to suggest ways to continue with the work without damaging the buildings in the area.
The committee will comprise a structural engineer each from the side of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL), and the JN Petit Institute, and experts from IIT-Bombay. “The committee will submit its suggestions, and a report on the effects of the excavation work on the buildings within two weeks,” the bench said. The directions came while the court was hearing a petition filed against the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA,) the state, and MMRCL by the trustees of the JN Petit Institute. The petition, filed through advocate Fredun De’Vitre, had sought a stay on the ongoing work at the proposed Hutatma Chowk Metro station along line III on the ground that the work was causing damage to the old buildings in the area.
As per the petitioners, on August 25 this year, a heavy limestone finial adorning a portion of the JN Petit building’s ceiling had fallen down due to the constant vibrations from the ongoing tunnelling work for the Metro. Justice Chellur had yesterday said that the court couldn’t stop the Metro work altogether considering that the project was meant for public welfare. She had, however, agreed to the petitioners’ request for a survey of all buildings in the area by an independent structural engineering expert.