Declaring the Mumbai Metro Line III project to be crucial to ease the traffic woes, the Bombay High Court today said it needs to consider if the lives of trees are more important than those of the human beings.
“Primarily and importantly, the Metro has to come to Mumbai. Considering the traffic woes people are suffering from, Metro needs to come to ease them out. Now we will have to see what is more important – life of a human being or the life of tree,” observed a bench of Chief Justice Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni.
The bench made the observation while hearing two pleas by the residents of Churchgate and Cuffe Parade in south Mumbai challenging the proposed felling of over 5,000 trees to pave way for the Seepz-Colaba Metro Line III project.
The high court had earlier asked the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd not to cut any tree till further orders.
MMRCL’s counsel Aspi Chinoy today made a fervent plea to the court to vacate its order against cutting the trees.
“The order directing a stay on cutting of trees needs to be vacated since it is causing a lot of damage to the project. A lot of work needs to be completed before the monsoon. Trenches, which have been dug, need to be filled after the necessary work is finished,” Chinoy said.
Chinoy added that the MMRCL was ready to abide by its undertaking to the court that for every tree that is cut in south Mumbai, another one will be planted at the same spot after the construction work is over.
“This would be in addition to the three plants that will be planted in the suburbs,” he argued.
The petitioners, however, objected and said the entire project does not have clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).
The court said if it vacates the stay, it would set up a committee to monitor if the MMRCL was complying with its undertaking.
The court, after hearing arguments of all the parties involved, reserved its order on the interim stay granted.
The MoEF in an affidavit submitted to the court today, said since the Metro is a civic amenity project, Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance, if any, will have to be taken from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA).
The 33-kilometer Line III of the Mumbai Metro, also referred to as the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ line, is a part of the metro system which will connect Cuffe Parade business district in South Mumbai to SEEPZ in the north-central.