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Litigations delaying Metro car shed project, causing losses: Bombay HC told

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that the construction of the car shed at Aarey Colony was getting delayed and causing loss of public money

Law & Order, Court order

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Press Trust of India Mumbai
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that the construction of the car shed at Aarey Colony was getting delayed and causing loss of public money due to litigations, defending its plan to cut more trees at the site than earlier proposed.
MMRCL, a nodal agency, told the HC that due to the court cases, it could not cut down trees in 2019 and this has now led to an increase in the number of trees that are required to be cut for the project at suburban Goregaon.
In 2019, the MMRCL had sought permission from the tree authority of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to chop 84 trees. However, due to petitions filed in HC and later in the Supreme Court, a status quo was ordered.
After the SC gave the green signal to cut trees, the MMRCL filed an application before the tree authority to cut down 177 trees.
As per the MMRCL, the number of trees at the Metro car shed site has increased in the past four years.
An activist, Zoru Bhathena, last month moved the HC challenging the notice issued by the BMC's tree authority on the cutting down of the 177 trees.
Bhathena claimed that the notice was in violation of the Supreme Court order of November 2022, which allowed for the removal of only 84 trees.
This matter remained pending for four years thanks to the petitioners. During these four years, four monsoon seasons have passed. So at that time what were saplings only and were not falling under the definition of trees, they grew naturally and have now become trees, MMRCL's counsel Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told the court.
The MMRCL in its affidavit filed on Thursday said the car depot was the heart and soul of the Metro line.
The depot work is required to be completed by October 2023. Even a single day delay to the project would cause a loss of Rs 5.87 crore to the public exchequer, it said.
Between its first application to the BMC's tree authority and till date, the MMRCL said, additional trees have grown and plants or shrubs which at the time would not be termed as trees have now grown into trees.
Due to this, the total updated number of trees that require to be cut has increased, said MMRCL, alleging that petitioner Bhathena was delaying the public project.
The BMC's tree authority in its affidavit reiterated the MMRCL's stand that from 2019 till now many wild trees have matured and have reached 20 to 25 feet in height.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice S V Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne posted the matter for further hearing on February 23.
The SC had in November 2022 permitted the MMRCL to approach the BMC's tree authority to fell 84 trees at the Aarey Colony for the construction of the car shed.
The order was passed on a bunch of petitions filed by law students and environmentalists against the proposed felling of trees.
The Metro car shed project at Aarey Colony in suburban Goregaon has been embroiled in controversy with environmentalists holding protests against the indiscriminate felling of trees in the area which they claim is a forested patch.
After coming to power, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government had in 2019 said that the car shed would be constructed at suburban Kanjurmarg and not Aarey Colony.
In June 2022, the Eknath Shinde-BJP government reversed the decision and said the car shed will be constructed at Aarey Colony only.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Feb 16 2023 | 4:06 PM IST

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