MMRDA guilty of 'contempt' over felling of trees on the WEH

Civic body in the dock after activists raise a stink over felling of trees on the Western Express Highway

The trees were axed two days ago in Malad (east) where the work of Dahisar-Andheri East metro line is in progress
The trees were axed two days ago in Malad (east) where the work of Dahisar-Andheri East metro line is in progress

Environmental activists who had approached the Bombay High Court over the felling of trees for the construction of the metro project in Colaba, have alleged that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is guilty of contempt of court orders for cutting trees on the Western Express Highway. The trees were axed two days ago in Malad (east) where the work of Dahisar-Andheri East metro line is in progress.

A few months ago, Khar resident and activist Zoru Bhathena had filed an RTI with the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) inquiring about the number of trees that will be cut for metro line three. In response to the RTI, MMRC had stated that 5,102 trees will make way for the metro three, of which 1331 will be cut and 3,681 will be transplanted.

Following the recent felling of trees in Colaba, outraged residents and activists had filed a Public Interest Litigation in Bombay High Court. The court, in turn, had questioned the MMRC and BMC about the study that they had done before deciding on cutting trees in the area.

"On February 3 last year, the Bombay High Court had directed the MCGM Tree Authority to ensure that not a single tree on Western Express Highway is cut or destroyed. This order is still valid. Prima-facie, it appears that MCGM Tree Authority has not followed these directions, and has caused contempt of the court orders," said Bhatena. He has also
attached pictures of the incident as proof.

When contacted, deputy superintendent (Gardens) and tree officer, J Pardeshi, denied the allegation. "Our officials had visited the spot and there are no trees that were cut recently . The area where the trees are there comes under the jurisdiction of PWD," he said. Additional Metropolitan Commissioner Pravin Darade was unavailable for comment.

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