A Bombay High Court bench of chief justice Manjula Chellur and justice GS Kulkarni, on April 24, 2017, sought the appearance of the additional solicitor general before it on May 3, 2017, to clarify the stand of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), on granting approval to build some stations and underground tracks for the Mumbai Metro project.
“What do we do if the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest is not bothered and is not serious about the environment? We direct the additional solicitor general to appear before us on May 3 for the ministry and clarify its stand,” said chief justice Chellur.
The bench expressed displeasure, while hearing a plea by the residents of Churchgate and Cuffe Parade, challenging the proposed cutting of over 5,000 trees, for executing the Seepz-Colaba Metro Line III project of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL).
The high court had earlier asked the MMRCL not to cut any tree till further orders. The bench was informed by the petitioners’ counsel Janak Dwarkadas that the Maharashtra State Environment Impact Assessment Authority had given the permission to carry out the construction work. “However, for such big projects, permission is required from the Ministry of Environment and Forest itself and not from the state authority,” he said.
On the previous occasions too, the court had asked the MoEF to clarify which authority had the right to grant the clearance. The union ministry, however, is yet to make any submission on the issue. Line III of the Mumbai Metro, also referred to as the Colaba–Bandra-SEEPZ line, is a part of the metro system which will connect Cuffe Parade business district in South Mumbai to SEEPZ in the north-central part of the city.