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MMOPL was 'too busy' with Mumbai Metro to re-plant trees it cut

While the law mandates that trees cleared for any development project need to be re-planted at another location within a month, MMOPL, years after starting work on Metro, is still to plant them

It seems the Metro project was a bit too much to handle for the Mumbai Metro One Private Ltd (MMOPL), as they were too busy to re-plant the trees they had cleared to get land for the multi-crore project.

Metro authorities said they had chopped 791 trees for the project. File pic
Metro authorities said they had chopped 791 trees for the project. File pic

A member of the Tree Authority a committee of corporators and nominated members formed for welfare of trees has lodged a complaint with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

In mid-day’s report on July 10, an MMOPL spokesperson had mentioned that they had chopped 791 trees for the project. Another 912 had been uprooted to make way for the transport, and these had to be transplanted (re-planted in another location). Of these, the BMC had no idea how many had actually been done as promised.

mid-day’s report on July 10
mid-day’s report on July 10

For the 791 trees chopped, the law states that MMOPL has to plant two for each tree cut. However, it’s still unclear if a single tree was planted. Their spokesperson had earlier told this correspondent that the “work order had been issued and that the job would be done in 3-4 months.”

Years behind
Work began on the Metro in 2008 and as per regulation, one has to pay the BMC in order to cut trees for a project. The date of receipts for these demand drafts for permission is also 2008 and it has been more than a month since the Metro began operating. Yet, the trees don’t seem to have seen the light of day.

Citing Section 8(5) of the Maharashtra Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, Tree Authority member Niranjan Shetty has lodged a complaint with the Gardens and Trees department of the BMC, saying that MMOPL was supposed to re-plant the new trees within 30 days of clearing them.

“It has been years now and MMOPL are still planning to plant trees. This is completely against the set rules and the government act. The BMC should take immediate action against MMOPL for not complying with the rules,” said Shetty. MMOPL also hasn’t asked for any extension either. Shetty’s letter addresses the Superintendent of the Gardens and Trees department, Vijay Hire.

He claimed he hadn’t received it yet, but also doesn’t remember MMOPL ever writing to him for extending the deadline to plant the trees. Shetty, in his letter, has also raised the issue of tree transplantation for which photographic evidence on a CD has to be provided for the act.

The other side
When asked why they hadn’t planted the trees within the given time frame and whether they had sought an extension, an MMOPL spokesperson said, “We have recently commissioned Metro One and we are completing any other leftover work, including tree plantation.

If required, the extended permission will be taken by the concerned authorities.” Speaking on the required photographic proof of transplantation, he added, “We have provided photographs and CDs from time to time to the BMC for various re-plantations.”

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