The Bombay High Court has allowed the National Highways Authority of India to cut mangrove trees for the construction of Vadodara Mumbai Expressway.

“Execution of project Considering the importance of the project proposed to be undertaken by Petitioner, we deem it appropriate to grant permission as sought for in the Petition.”, the bench of Acting Chief Justice S.V. Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep V. Marne observed while allowing the plea by NHAI.

NHAI had approached the Court seeking leave of the Court to execute the project of development of Vadodara Mumbai Expressway.

Appearing for the petitioner, ASG Anil Singh, contended that Petitioner has procured all requisite permissions from various authorities like MCZMA, MoEFCC, DTEPA, MPCB, etc for the execution of the project.

He explained the importance and need of the project involving public interest.

AGP M.M. Pabale appeared for the Respondent-State whereas Advocate Rui Rodrigues appeared for Union of India. Bombay Environmental Action Group was represented by Advocate Rohan Kelkar.

The Court noted that as per the additional affidavit filed by the petitioner-NHAI only 350 mangrove trees are required to be felled for execution of entire project.

The Court noted that the concerns expressed by Bombay Environmental Action Group about felling of higher number of mangrove trees and diversion of larger area of mangrove forest are taken care of by the additional affidavit filed by Petitioner in which it is clarified that only 350 mangrove trees would be felled and 0.0785 ha of mangrove forest would be diverted.

"...even though Petitioner has requested clearance from the various authorities for diversion of larger area of mangrove forest it has undertaken before this Court to restrict the diversion only to 0.0785 of mangrove forest area as well as felling of 350 number of mangrove trees.", the Court observed.

The Court directed that the NHAI will have to strictly comply with the conditions imposed by various authorities including that of afforestation.

The Court also noted that “Its an ambitious and mammoth project of Government of India, of which Delhi-Mumbai express way is a part. Vadodara-Mumbai greenfield expressway which forms part of Delhi-Mumbai expressway corridor will benefit large sections of population in Maharashtra, Gujrat and Union Territory of Daman, Dadra & Nagar Haveli.”

Thus the Court allowed the petition in terms of the prayer seeking permission to National Highways Authority of India to remove / fell mangrove trees in an area admeasuring 3.9500 ha of mangrove forest land.

Cause Title- National Highways Authority of India v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.

Click here to read/download Judgment