Bombay High Court Approves MMRDA Plans to Cut Mangrove Trees to Build Metro Line-4

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The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA), the petitioner instituted the Writ Petition. The petitioner seeks permission to start construction work for Metro Line – 4. The Court grants permission and disposes of the petition.

Brief Facts of the Case

A Metro Project covering Mumbai and its neighbouring cities like Thane, Kalyan, etc. is proposed. It aims to increase connectivity and improve the public transportation system. Metro Line-4 (“said Project”) in particular aims to connect Wadala-Ghatkopar-Mulund-Thane-Kasarwadawali. A stretch of the said Project falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone area (CRZ). As per a judgment passed by the Bombay HC, any construction in the CRZ zone requires the permission of the Court. In light of this, the petitioner has approached the Court.

Petitioner’s Submissions

The petitioner submits that the said Project is of great public importance. It aims to improve the public transport system in Mumbai. The current rail and road transport systems are overburdened and overcrowded. This leads to unsafe transportation conditions and fatal accidents. The petitioner also provides statistics in support of the same.

A stretch of the line measuring 1.2 km at Bhakti Park, Wadala passes through the CRZ-II area which has mangroves. In light of this, the petitioner has taken necessary permissions from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF & CC). The said authorities have carried out site inspections of the proposed construction area. MoEF & CC has granted an “in-principle” sanction under Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

The petitioner further submits that they are ready to make payments necessary to compensate for the destruction of mangroves. The Forest Department has identified 1-hectare land for afforestation purposes. The petitioner has agreed to bear the afforestation and any other incidental costs. The petitioner, thus, seeks permission to carry out construction activities for said Project.

Respondent’s Submissions

Respondent No. 4, the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, submitted an Affidavit. The Affidavit states the importance of the Metro Network in Mumbai and MMR Region. It also states that Wadala is a fast-developing IT and commercial hub that will soon be like BKC. This is one of the primary reasons for the increased importance of a station at Bhakti Park, Wadala. The respondent submits that the petitioner has agreed to plant 10 times more saplings than the number of trees to be cut. The petitioner has also agreed to bear to the necessary costs for afforestation. The petitioner has agreed to abide by all conditions as put forth by the Respondents. The respondent contends that the said Project is more sustainable. It not only ensures increased safety but also reduces pollution to a large extent. Thus, the said project is of utmost public importance.

Court’s Observation

After careful consideration of the submissions, reports, and statistics put forth by the parties, the bench observed that the said project is of public importance and utility. The Court observed that the petitioner has taken requisite permission for said project. The petitioner has agreed to follow any other necessary conditions as required. Thus, the Court has no objections to the execution of the said Metro Project.

Court’s Decision

The Bombay HC Bench allows the prayers put forth by MMRDA. The construction activity for the said Project is approved.


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