The Bombay High Court (HC) on Thursday allowed the felling of 1,184 mangrove trees so that the Kharghar-Vikhroli Transmission Line Private Limted may proceed with the construction work of its project of proposed 400 kilovolts (KV) transmission line for strengthening the Mumbai transmission system.
The petitioner company said that it would file an undertaking to plant 15,000 saplings for the loss of mangrove trees due to the project, which the court accepted and asked the petitioner to submit within a week.
However, the court said the relief granted would be subject to undertaking of the responsible officer to the effect that the petitioner will comply with the conditions imposed in the permissions granted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and other authorities for carrying out the proposed project.
A division bench of Justice AA Sayed and Justice SP Tavade on February 4 passed a ruling on a plea filed by the company set up as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the implementation of the project, filed through advocates Saket Mone and Subir Chakrabarti.
It was stated that the entire proposed project runs in the east-west direction and about 31 towers would fall under the Coastal Regulation Zone areas, out of which nearly 26 towers are likely to affect mangroves.
The petitioners contended that the proposed project is one of great public importance to the state of Maharashtra, given that the power load growth of Mumbai and its suburbs has been increasing at an exponential rate.
The plea stated, “The said project will bring about 1,000 megawatts of power into the city, thereby providing competitive reliable power supply from outside Mumbai for the benefit of the consumers residing in the area. It would further support stabilisation of the power system network in the city of Mumbai, without adding more generation capacity in Mumbai or nearby towns.”
Stating that the project, to be completed by March 2022, is the need of hour, the petitioners sought permissions to carry out construction on the mangrove trees’ land.
The respondent authorities did not dispute that it was a “public project” and granted permissions to remove mangroves as “public necessity.”
After hearing submissions, the bench noted, “We are of the opinion that an exception is required to be made in favour of the petitioner to remove the mangroves as prayed for on the conditions as imposed by the respondent authorities as the work in question is for public good and in public interest..