January 21, 2020
MUMBAI: Bombay high court on Tuesday directed the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) to “explore the possibility’’ of transplantation of trees affected by large public infrastructure projects such as the Thane Metro line IV and several roads, at alternate sites within the city itself suggested by independent experts. Some transplantation sites are 4km away and some, an infeasible, 30km away, said the experts.
HC asked the THM counsel Ram Apte, who said it was not treating the PIL as adversarial litigation, if sites could be identified closer.
Advocate Mini Mathew appearing for a public interest litigant Rohit Joshi read out a report after tree experts Seema Hardikar, Nagesh Tekal and Mansi Joshi visited the sites to assess felling and transplantation of trees for the Metro IV project within Thane. The experts questioned the transplantation permissions given last May by Thane Tree Authority and suggested that “site for transplantation be allotted within minimum distance and be evaluated by experts before granting permission.
“Transplanting 55 years old Bottle pal is not recommended as its life span is about 50 years’’ said he report and recommended planting fresh saplings of local species instead. Also Gulmohar trees with an average lifespan of '40 years' were to be transplanted at '30 years' when they are susceptibleto diseases, said the experts.
The HC bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Riyaz Chagla gave her a patient hearing but questioned Joshi’s other advocate in a separate PIL he filed to challenge tree cutting nods for over a dozen projects without making the project proponents a party and asked if he was “being selective.’’
The HC had in December 2019, partially vacated a stay it had granted earlier and green-signalled cutting over 230 trees and transplanting over 1,600 for seven infrastructure projects, including over 900 for Thane- Wadala Metro IV line.
“Rootball preparation is completed for 191 trees" at one of the sites and for over 330 trees at another site, said the expert. But more than a dozen trees proposed to be transplanted are infested with termites it was found.
The HC bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Riyaz Chagla vacated the stay only for public infrastructure projects.
The bench said these were for public good. These include four road-widening, a road-concretization and a building for Thane district court—all Thane Municipal Corporation projects.
The HC, continued the stay against felling over 2,000 trees for non-public projects in Thane.
On Tuesday, counsel Milind Sathe for Piramal Realty said it has a private residential project where tree cutting permission was given for over 400 trees and for transplantation of about 500 trees, but the PIL had not even made the builder a party to be heard while challenging the permission. He said he would seek security of the cost escalation against the litigant for the delay caused to a project. Sathe also mentioned that MMRDA had another road project from Airoli to Katai Naka in which 69 trees are permitted to be transplanted and 23 cut. He said this permission was also challenged in PIL with making it a party. Another project of MHADA cluster redevelopment in Thane is also similarly affected said a lawyer.
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Source : mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com