HC allows goods tempo into Matheran

Tough task: Usually, goods are transported into Matheran through hand-pulled or horse carts, since it is an eco-sensitive zone.

Tough task: Usually, goods are transported into Matheran through hand-pulled or horse carts, since it is an eco-sensitive zone.  

Handcart pullers not available, residents being forced to buy essential items at inflated prices: petition

The Bombay High Court on Saturday accepted a decision taken by a committee set up by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change permitting a goods tempo to ferry food and other essential items to Matheran hill station, some 80 km from Mumbai.

Matheran was declared an eco-sensitive zone in 2003 and no vehicles are allowed beyond Dasturi Point, apart from ambulances, the fire brigade and solid waste management vehicles.

Justice S.J. Kathawalla was hearing a plea filed by former MLA Suresh Narayan Lad, seeking relaxation on vehicular restrictions in Matheran so essential goods could be provided to the residents in view of the lockdown.

The plea sought directions to the Ministry and the Raigad District Collector to relax norms to enable small tempos and trucks to enter the town with essentials. An interim monitoring committee was set up under the chairmanship of Shivaji Daund, Divisional Commissioner, Konkan region, to hear the petition and take appropriate decision. The court was on Saturday informed that the committee had permitted the Municipal Council of Matheran to hire a goods tempo to ferry essential items to the town once a week.

The court, while accepting the recommendation, however, directed the vehicle be deployed thrice a week instead of once. It also accepted another recommendation of the committee, by which a proposal would be submitted to the Central Railway for approving goods transport by attaching dedicated goods coaches with the Dasturi Naka-Matheran train.

The petition had stated that nearly 4,500 residents of Matheran and around 25,000 from neighbouring villages, including tribals and cattle farmers, are dependent on the town for their livelihood and daily supply of essential items.

As per the petition, even during normal conditions, vehicular traffic in Matheran was restricted and goods are transported into the town through hand-pulled or horse carts. However, since the lockdown, many of the handcart pullers and horses are not available.

Residents, meanwhile, are buying essential items at inflated prices, many of them being forced to pay ₹250 extra per gas cylinder and ₹10 to ₹15 more per kg for vegetables and fruits, it said.

The court accepted the decision of the committee and disposed of the petition.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 5:58:54 PM |

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