Metro body chal­lenges green tri­bunal over Aarey Colony de­pot

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - METRO - Sau­rabh Katkur­war

MUM­BAI: The bat­tle over Aarey Colony land to build a metro de­pot is set to take an ugly turn.

The Mum­bai Metro Rail Cor­po­ra­tion (MMRC) has chal­lenged the Na­tional Green Tri­bunal’s (NGT) de­ci­sion to en­force a ban on con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties. It has ar­gued that the tri­bunal does not have ju­ris­dic­tion in the is­sue.

MMRC of­fi­cials said the tri­bunal can­not seek any ban on con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties as Aarey Colony has not been de­clared an eco-sen­si­tive area (ESA) yet. The min­istry of en­vi­ron­ment and for­est (MOEF) has not made a de­ci­sion on de­mar­ca­tion of ar­eas be­tween 0-4 kms from bound­ary of the San­jay Gandhi Na­tional Park (SGNP) as ESA.

NGO Van­shakti had filed pe­ti­tion in the NGT over the MMRC’S de­ci­sion to cut 2,298 trees in the area to build the de­pot for the Co­laba-ban­draseepz Metro-3 project.

Act­ing on the pe­ti­tion, the NGT, in Au­gust passed an in­terim or­der ban­ning con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties in Aarey Colony. It also asked MMRC to file an in­ter­ven­tion ap­pli­ca­tion if the lat­ter be­lieves the project is le­gal.

In its af­fi­davit, the MMRC has chal­lenged the NGT’S au­thor­ity to in­ter­vene in this mat­ter.

“We have re­ceived a let­ter from the Union en­vi­ron­ment min­istry that states that the metro project does not need en­vi­ron­men­tal clear­ances. In ad­di­tion, the pro­posal to de­clare the ESA is still pend­ing. Aarey Colony is not a for­est. Af­ter sev­eral le­gal con­sul­ta­tions, we have reached a con­clu­sion that NGT has no ju­ris­dic­tion in this case,” said a se­nior MMRC of­fi­cial, who did not wish to be named.

An­other MMRC of­fi­cial in­formed that the metro de­pot ac­tiv­i­ties will be car­ried out in com­pli­ance with the green stan­dards and will not have an ad­verse im­pact on the lo­cal bio­di­ver­sity, ex­cept cut­ting trees.

Mean­while, MMRC of­fi­cials in­formed that it may ap­proach the Supreme Court in re­la­tion with NGT’S ju­ris­dic­tion.

D Stalin of Van­shakti rub­bished MMRC’S claims. “The of­fi­cials think no law is ap­pli­ca­ble to them. How­ever, the NGT has ju­ris­dic­tion and pow­ers to in­ter­vene when­ever en­vi­ron­men­tal laws are vi­o­lated,” he said.

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