The Bombay High Court on Monday asked Mumbai’s civic body why it has issued a public notice seeking to cut 177 trees at Mumbai’s suburban area Aarey Colony for a Metro 3 car shed when the Supreme Court had allowed the felling of only 84 trees.
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A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice S.V. Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Zoru Bhathena challenging the notice issued by the civic body, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
On January 12, BMC issued a notice after the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) constructing the car shed sought permission to remove 177 trees for it.
Mr. Bhathena contends this notice is in clear violation of the Supreme Court’s order in November 2022 which permitted the cutting of only 84 trees for the project.
Senior counsel Aspi Chinoy, appearing for the BMC, informed the court that 177 trees include 84 trees mentioned by the SC. He added those being cut are mostly shrubs and some wild trees that have grown after 2019 (after MMRCL filed its first application to cut 84 trees).
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However, advocate Zamaan Ali, appearing for Mr. Bhatena, opposed it and said these trees have been assigned ID numbers and hence cannot be termed as shrubs or wild trees.
The court asked the BMC, “Where do we get that these are shrubs? Also, the SC order is of November 2022. This order deals with only 84 trees. At that time why was it not brought to the notice of the apex court that there are more than 84 trees that need to be removed? The question would be whether these are shrubs or trees,”
The Bench has directed the BMC to file an affidavit explaining why it had issued the notice for cutting more trees and posted the matter to be heard on February 16.