The Bombay high court (HC) on Saturday disposed of a petition and temporarily allowed thrice a week vehicular access to Matheran, a scenic hill station in Maharashtra, for the supply of essential goods to the ecologically sensitive zone (ESZ).
Earlier, the interim monitoring committee of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had mandated that the local civic body could allow Bharat-IV compliant vehicles to transport goods once a week to Matheran residents.
Though the court accepted the panel’s decision to use trains to deliver the essential goods to the hill station’s core area, it temporarily allowed vehicular access thrice a week since the rail services have been suspended because of prevailing lockdown restrictions.
The Centre had enforced a nationwide lockdown from March 25 to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which led to a disruption in the supply of essential supplies to Matheran.
A single-judge HC bench, comprising Justice SJ Kathawalla, while hearing the petition via video-conferencing on Saturday, filed by Suresh Lad, an ex-lawmaker of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), was informed by the ministry that its panel is aware of the acute problems faced by Matheran residents due to the lockdown restrictions.
Besides, there has been a massive economic loss for the hill station’s residents, as the peak March-May tourist season got wiped out due to the raging pandemic.
On Friday, the panel, headed by Konkan division commissioner Shivaji Daund, heard Lad’s plea and accepted that “the pandemic has increased the hardship of Matheran residents and reduced their purchasing capacity because of the loss of the March-May tourist season”.