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The Bombay High Court today issued a notice to Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) seeking its response on whether it had granted clearance to the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRCL) to construct nine stations under the Metro Line III project. The direction was passed by a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni. They were hearing a petition filed by residents of Churchgate in South Mumbai against proposed cutting of 5,000 trees to pave way for the Seepz-Colaba Metro line III project. Petitioners' counsel Janak Dwarkadas claimed that nine stations in the line fall in Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and the MoEF has refused permission to MMRCL to carry out construction in those areas. Some of the stations are Hutatma Chowk, Cuffe Parade, Churchgate, Vidhan Bhawan and CST in South Mumbai, he said. "Why is the MoEF silent? We want to know what is their stand? Is green clearance required? And if yes then was the same granted or refused?" Chief Justice Chellur said directing MoEF to file its affidavit by March 30. MMRCL counsel Aspi Chinoy said the authority was incurring heavy monetary loss due to the pendency of the petition as the high court had earlier restricted them from cutting any trees till further orders. To this, the court said while it understands the MMRCL's grievance, the issue of environment cannot be dismissed lightly. Last week, Chinoy assured the court that for every tree that would be cut for the project, the MMRCL would replant a matured tree in the same vicinity after completion of construction of stations. This would be in addition to the three trees the MMRCL would plant in Sewri in central Mumbai for each tree cut in south Mumbai. Line 3 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.
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