Times of India: Mumbai: Thursday, February 16, 2017.
A day after chief minister Devendra Fadnavis assured residents of minimal loss to the city's green cover for the Metro-III project, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) bluntly told the same group of citizens that there was no way the trees can be saved.
In a two-hour meeting with residents and activists on Wednesday morning, MMRCL authorities said the only alternative to saving the trees would be to stop metro work.
Concerned residents and activists across Mumbai have been fighting to save the green cover that the city has already begun to lose to the ambitious metro project. Large trees in south Mumbai's Cuffe Parade locality, for instance, have been chopped.
Activist Zoru Bathena, who was at the meeting with MMRCL officials on Wednesday, said, "MMRCL informed us that there is no solution but to cut the trees. They added that minor changes in the plan might save just a handful."
Bhatena had earlier filed a plea under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, and learned that a total of 5,012 trees are likely to be affected for Metro-III. At the meeting, he said, citizens tried to discuss the proposed loss of tree cover at Aarey Colony too, but were told that the issue is sub judice.
Nina Verma, a resident of Churchgate's J Tata Road where large trees are to be cut, said the locals are in no way against the project as they understand it will benefit the city; all they want is to save the green cover.
Ashwini Bhide, managing director, MMRCL, told TOI: "Whatever can be saved is being saved. The consultants had initially estimated that 4,250 trees would have to be cut. However, after due diligence, the figure was brought down to 3,800. The number of trees that would get affected at the construction stage has reduced further to 2,800. Of these, 1,000 will be cut but compensated, as per rules, by planting more trees. The remaining 1,800 trees will be transplanted." Bhide further said the technology to construct a underground station without cutting open the surface does not exist.
"We will make a full-fledged attempt even during construction work to save the trees."
These 4,250 trees exclude those that are likely to be affected in Aarey Colony.