Plea In High Court Against BMC Nod To Axe 2,600 Aarey Trees For Metro Car Shed
An environmental activist approached the Bombay High Court on Tuesday against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's approval for felling and transplanting over 2,600 trees in and from the Aarey area in the metropolis.
In his petition, activist Zoru Bathena said the decision of the BMC’s Tree Authority, taken on Aug. 29 this year, approving the felling of trees to make way for a metro car shed was not in accordance with a previous order of the high court.
The petitioner said the Tree Authority did not follow the due process while approving the felling of trees and urged the high court to direct the BMC to submit all details of the Tree Authority's meeting in which the decision was taken.
He also urged the court to stay the Tree Authority’s resolution approving the felling of such trees until further orders. The plea is likely to be taken up for hearing by a bench led by Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog in the next few days.
As per the petition, on Aug. 29, the Tree Authority tabled and approved a proposal made by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation to cut some trees in the Aarey area to make way for a car shed for the Mumbai Metro III project.
The authority approved the felling of 2,185 trees and transplanting (uprooting trees from the original spot and replanting them at an alternate spot) of 461 trees from the area. An approval from the Tree Authority is mandatory for felling more than 20 trees at a time at any place in the city.
The authority has 19 members at present, including the BMC commissioner. Of these, five are independent experts nominated by the BMC as per its own rules and the high court’s previous orders.
As per the petition, the proposal was approved by an 8:6 majority. Two members, who are corporators, walked out over differences with the decision, and two independent expert members were absent from the meeting, it said. Besides, there was "”no discussion on why six members disagreed with the proposal to fell the trees”, the plea contended.
The BMC did not discuss the opposition and objections raised by hundreds of citizens who wrote to it before the proposal was approved, it said.
Besides, “three of the five experts, namely Dr Deepak Apte, Dr Sashirekha Sureshkumar and Dr. Chandrakant Salunkhe”, had on a previous occasion said that they did not have adequate time to examine all the trees that were to be felled, Bathena said in his plea.
He said, therefore, the approval granted by the Tree Authority cannot be considered proper.