Saturday, July 2, 2011

City of Law Suits!

After hearing the evidence, I will record a verdict of natural causes… Joan Owen

Recently all news papers carried news about the Hon District Court passing a judgment in a matter of law suit involving PMC & an NGO. The matter was about making a road from river bed Mutha connecting the west & east sides of city & claimed to be reducing major traffic load from the existing road network of the city. The matter was going on since 2000! Because of which the road work has been held up for last so many years, now the court has ruled against the NGO whose stand was PMC has no right for making such road & the court has even ordered to pay PMC the court fees involved for causing delay in the road development work! Also the court has given a month’s status quo to allow the concerned NGO to appeal to the High Court.

Few days back there was another news about Hon High Court ordering a ban over the Tree Authority giving permission to the tree cuttings in Pune city & asking any body who wants to cut a tree for any cause to apply to the Hon Court for the permission via PMC garden department. Months after the Bombay High Court imposed restrictions on Pune Tree Authority's powers to grant permission for cutting trees, the PTA is all set to appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court.

It was on May 6, 2009 that the HC had first issued an order restricting the Pune Municipal Corporation's tree authority from granting permission to cut trees within its limits without the court's approval. The order was passed after the hearing of a public interest litigation filed by Pune-based environmentalist Deepak Balkrishna Vahikar regarding felling of 1,522 trees by the civic body.

Although the PMC appealed against the order, the HC stood its ground and issued a revised interim order on July 8, stating that the tree committee should first carry out a survey taking the assistance of an expert body and submit its report to the court, after which only those trees that are dangerous to life and property will be cut. The HC had noted that these orders were passed in the interest of maintaining the ecological balance within and beyond Pune's urban agglomeration.  Now, the civic body is set to approach the Supreme Court. It will argue that all its decisions regarding the felling of trees are taken after taking the rules and regulations into consideration.

And one more news which has made head a line in recent past is about Court Stays Bal-Bharati Paud Road Construction! PMC Court on 27th April 2006 ordered Status Quo in respect of road construction from Bal-Bharati to Paud. Responding to the petition filed by Parisar claiming that PMC was violating several sections of law in constructing this road, the court has ordered Status Quo in construction on various grounds stopping the construction of the very road. The legal battle is on & the road work is at stand still at present.

Strange world we are living in! With all due respect to Hon Court’s authority & jurisdiction in the very matters, because it’s not about what they should decide as once we are in their jurisdiction we have to honor the outcome! It’s the way things are going especially about the development of this very city is a matter of concern!

I have full faith about the NGO’s & their workings but some times is it not equally important to consider the cause from multidimensional & then enter in to legal suit? As once you enter in that zone there is no turning back & the sufferer is not the PMC or any Public Body, it’s the Public at large. Like the river road case is going since last 10 years & it has made the life of commuters miserable because for the first few years its condition was horrible & yet its under use naturally giving a bumpy ride to all those who were using it. Then for few days the statuesque was lifted & PMC paved( dambrikaran) some portion yet its width & other safety measures are not in proper places resulting major accidents on the same. Also the entrance to the very same road is a bottle neck creating havoc for the users as well people residing in the surrounding. And PMC can’t do any thing about it as the matter is in court!

Now as a lay man & citizen of this very cityI have few questions ( with no intention to hurt any bodies intentions as well to doubt Hon Court’s judging powers) such as if the matter was stayed down & PMC was not allowed to even repair the road or its access then why they allowed traffic on the very road? Why the NGO didn’t seek to the court for banning the use of very road,till the final verdict comes? Another thing, couldn’t the NGO whose intention was for the betterment of the city has seen that if so many people are using the road that means people were in need of that road, so if people of the city have accepted the road why the NGO continued with the law suit? Agreed Hon Court cant on there own produce the evidences or statements of the specialists in the field in such matter but cant they urge both the sides to produce all the required evidences about their say & give the verdict on urgent basis to give the faster verdict when the whole west part of city is at stake?

Similar things have been happening on the other two matters. No one doubts importance of trees in the city but even if to cut a single tree or major branches which is coming right in the development, to go & take permission from Hon High Court which is in Mumbai is surely a difficult task for a common man or any entity. We could have a simpler system to analyze the importance of the need of cutting any tree & accommodate that need. This shows what trust Hon Court is having in the existing system, then isn’t the need to change or improve the system is more important than Hon Court itself taking up the task of scrutinizing the tree cutting requests, is what a common man will think! The natural outcome of this will be people will stop taking any such permission for such cause & this you can confirm by the number of applications coming for the permission of tree cutting now & before this law suit! The number of request for tree cutting has been significantly reduced after this verdict & that doesn’t mean tree cutting has been reduced! We need tress but we need roads, homes, hospitals & many more things also. Important is balancing both & not just one entity & the logical approach should be to set up a system which will accommodate both i.e. development as well trees.


In Balbharti hill road  case which is a DP road shown in Development plan & would be a good alternative to existing over- over loaded Law college road, again & again both parties are fighting with tooth & nails about making or not making the road but who thinks for the alternative source of commuters. On one hand NGO’s stand is to improve Public Transport about which no two minds, but a lot has to be done on that front till then what about the 14 million vehicle holders in the city out of which many of them who have been in cross fire of all this legal war? As they are neither getting a good public transport nor good roads!

The Court’s power has its own importance & this power should be used very balancing way. There are many issues right from the Development Plan of the city isn’t getting sanctioned for last ten years, then why on this no NGO or PMC itself goes to court & ask to speedup up the permission process at the level of who ever has held it up? The new parking policy of PMC isn’t practical & it will only help in generating more vehicles on road, here too no one goes in court & the policy is being implemented facilitating more vehicles on road & we are fighting over making of roads! Instead of opposing just few roads we should hit the cause itself by using the power of court is what I feel. Why no body is going in oppose of Public Body in court & ask them to give exact target & mode by which they will be improving the existing road conditions as well public transport?  Same thing about declairing policy for the Affordable Housing, no one knows how & when? So many whys a common man is having in the city over which the Public body’s are keeping mum & NGO’s or Private entities are not taking cognizance of the same!


At last why can’t any we seek justice in any matter instead of celebrating a one dimensional victory? I think there lies the future of our very city! Till then let’s honor the respected Court’s judgment keeping faith in the great man’s quote about the verdict!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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