In the continuing struggle between sustainable development and infrastructural progress in the metropolis, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation has fired the latest salvo.
At a press conference in the city on Thursday, MMRC executive director Ashwini Bhide categorically said that the Metro 3 project could not be initiated if the proposed number of trees are not felled to make way for it. The Mumbai high court has already brought in a stay on the felling of the 5000 odd trees that is mandated by the MMRC for the implementation of the Metro 3 project. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis too has sounded a placatory note by asking the MMRC to adhere to environmental norms before implementing the project.
Bhide however said that the protests against the felling and transplanting of trees, particularly in the forested Aarey area, were misguided. She expressed confidence that the MMRC would be able to convince the court of the need for the Metro 3 project, as well as the realities of the environmental clearances taken by the project.
According to the MMRC, an estimated 4255 trees were going to be felled for the project earlier. This figure has now been revised to 2800. Out of these, 1090 will be felled while the rest will be translocated. Bhide said an additional 25000 saplings will be planted in the areas around Metro stations and depots, and that the city's environment will not suffer due to the project.
The MMRC, caught between political parties and environmentalists, has thus far maintained silence on the issue. Yesterday's press conference appears to be the MMRC's new stance to take the project ahead. Only time and the courts can now decide the fate of Metro 3.