Bombay metro: HC to look into environmental degradation

Bombay metro: HC to look into environmental degradation

DH Photo

The Bombay High Court which is hearing petitions on the cutting of 2,600 trees in Aarey for a metro rail car shed said on Monday that it would have to go into the issue of whether monetary value can be placed on environmental loss and degradation.

A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre said the issue pertains to the debate between environment and development.

"We need both environment and development. Hence, we need to contrast and compare the two. The world over scientists and ecologists are researching the issue of how to value environmental loss," Chief Justice Nandrajog said.

"Can monetary value be placed on environmental degradation? What is the economical value to environmental loss? We need to see that," the court said.

The court said it had collected research material on the issue and gave copies of the said material to advocates representing the petitioners, BMC, the MMRCL, and the state government.

The bench also sought to know if it should hear all petitions pertaining to the Aarey issue together.

Apart from the petition filed by activist Zoru Bathena challenging the Tree Authority's approval given on August 29 for felling the trees for the Metro car shed, another petition was filed in October 2018 seeking a direction to declare Aarey a forest area.

BMC counsel Aspi Chinoy, however, said the petitions should be heard separately.

"The issues are separate. If the court starts hearing the petition pertaining to whether Aarey is a forest area or not, then the issue regarding the cutting of trees for the Metro project will be sidelined," Chinoy said.

The bench said it would post all the petitions on September 17 and decide, on that date, the sequence in which to hear them.

As per Bathena's petition, on August 29 this year, the Tree Authority tabled and approved a proposal made by the MMRCL to cut trees in the Aarey area to make way for a car shed for the Mumbai Metro III project.

The Tree Authority approved the felling of 2,185 trees and transplanting (uprooting trees from the original spot and replanting them at an alternate spot) 461 trees from the area.

The Tree Authority's approval is mandatory for felling of more than 20 trees at a time at any place in the city.

The Aarey Colony in suburban Goregaon is among the prime green lungs of the metropolis. 

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