Maha-Metro challenges NGT’s jurisdiction
The Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (Maha-Metro) has challenged the jurisdiction of the city’s National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench to hear an application against the proposed Pune metro route alignment passing through a 1.7km stretch of the Mutha river bed.
The much-anticipated final arguments on the application, filed in May last year by architect Sarang Yadvadkar, industrialist Anu Aga and others, began before the NGT bench comprising Justice U D Salvi and expert member Nagin Nanda.
Maha-Metro’s lawyer S K Mishra cited provisions under the Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act of 1978 and submitted that the enactment allows the project executioner to go ahead with the construction works without any legal hindrance. He submitted that the enactment enables appropriate steps including diversion of river or nullahs for executing a project that is in public interest. It further provides for a remedy against any grievance only before a committee set up under the Act and later on, before the Supreme Court, he submitted.
Mishra also argued that the application against the metro route alignment did not raise any substantial issue related to environment.
The hearing will continue when lawyer Asim Sarode, appearing for the applicants, will make his submissions on the point of jurisdiction. “Arguments over the merits of the application will begin after the NGT settles the jurisdiction issue,” Yadvadkar told.
The applicants have challenged the proposed Pune Metro rail route alignment passing through the Mutha river bed on the grounds that the same would destroy the eco-system of the river.
The green tribunal had ordered an interim stay on January 2 restraining construction works on the river bed stretch. However, the Supreme Court had directed a stay on the NGT’s order on January 20 and the process of final argument was held up till the apex court clarified in April that there was no bar on the NGT proceeding with the case hearing.