The troubles for Mumbai Metro seem to be mounting after the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government came to power in Maharashtra. A day after new CM Uddhav Thackeray stopped construction of the metro car shed in the Aarey Milk Colony despite clearance from the Supreme Court of India, today cases were registered against officials and a contractor for allegedly cutting of trees along the route of Metro Line in Thane.
Work is currently underway on the Wadala-Ghatkopar-Thane-Kasarvadavli Metro Line 4, a 32.32 km route. On Thursday, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) had cut five to six trees near Teen Hath Naka in Thane to clear areas for the metro route. According to activists, this was done in violation of the Bombay High Court order.
The Naupada police have lodged cases against the contractor and MMRDA officials under relevant sections of the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act 1975, a police official said. Mayor of Thane city and Shiv Sena leader Naresh Mhaske strongly criticized the alleged cutting of trees for the metro route, and he had ordered the civic officials to register a complaint with the police. Mhaske said that he issued the order after receiving numerous complaints from citizens and NGOs against cutting of trees.
The MMRDA officials have, however, denied allegations of cutting trees, and said that trees were only pruned for transplantation. Pramod Ahuja, director (works), of MMRDA, said, “We have merely pruned the branches of some of the trees on this route. All these trees are supposed to be transplanted to Shildaighar. None of the trees will be cut. The HC had vacated the stay on cutting of trees for Metro-4 while hearing the petition filed by Thane Yuva Pratishthan. We have all the required permissions to transplant these trees.”
Even the activists seemed to have agreed that trees were pruned and not cut. environmentalist Rohit Joshi, who had filed two petitions against cutting trees for Mumbai Metro, said that “the authorities have chopped the branches in the dead of the night when there was no need for the same.” He added that while the High court has vacated the stay on first petition, the stay on the second petition is still there. He said he will file a contempt petition and that a huge protest will be held by environmentalists and Thane residents for cutting the branches of trees.