The Bombay High Court on Friday allowed the National High Speed Rail Corporation to cut 21,997 mangrove trees in Mumbai, Palghar and Thane to clear the route for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, The Indian Express reported.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Abhay Ahuja said that the decision was taken on account of the public interest attached to the project.

The bench passed the order on a plea filed by the National High Speed Rail Corporation in 2020. A detailed order is awaited.

The corporation had initially sought to cut 53,467 trees but reduced the number after the court asked them to do so, according to Live Law.

The National High Speed Rail Corporation had also assured the court it would plant five times the total mangrove trees that were earlier proposed to be felled and the number would not be reduced for the same.

The plea was opposed by a non-governmental organisation, Bombay Environmental Action Group, saying that no study was undertaken about the survival rate of saplings to be planted as a compensatory measure, reported PTI. It also said that no Environmental Impact Assessment report for felling trees was provided.

According to the 2018 order of the Bombay High Court, there is a total freeze on the destruction of mangroves across the state. High Court permission is required if any authority wishes to fell mangroves for any public project.