<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A two-judge committee of the Bombay High Court had in principle agreed to allow an application moved by the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) which sought permission to cut 216 trees on the Western Express Highway (WEH) for the construction of the Metro-7 line.The committee comprising of Justice Shantanu Kemkar and Justice Bhushan Gavai during a meeting held in chambers recently has agreed to direct the tree authority of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to grant permission to MMRDA, after a survey to identify the trees that would be cut was carried out by officials of the Maharashtra State Legal Aid Services Authority.Advocate GW Mattos, appearing for MMRDA, said the court, after going through the court commissioner’s report, has agreed to allow the tree-felling application. “It also took into account our undertaking that we would replant the trees wherever the need may be,” Mattos added.Following a public interest litigation filed by one Zoru Bathena highlighting the issue of trees suffering from mealy bugs, the court had directed MMRDA not to cut any trees on the Western Urban Road, which is when the authority moved the court seeking permission to cut 216 trees.Mattos argued that the project was a part of the Pragati Portal of the Office of Prime Minister of India (PMO), and being a project of great eminence its timely completion was important and would ensure benefits to the citizens of Mumbai at large.As per the undertaking, MMRDA is willing to replant the trees elsewhere in the city and at a ratio which is higher than normal. As per the norms, three trees have to be planted elsewhere for every tree cut. However, previously when 25 trees were cut for the project, 154 trees were replanted.The authority felt that the balance of convenience lies heavily in their favour because if the said 216 trees are not cut down then the execution of the entire Metro-7 Line would be obstructed which in turn would entail heavy costs to the State Exchequer.REPLANT DRIVEAs per the undertaking, MMRDA is willing to replant the trees elsewhere in the city and at a ratio which is higher than normal. As per the norms, three trees have to be planted elsewhere for every tree cut. Previously when 25 trees were cut for the project, 154 trees were replanted.
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