The Bombay High Court on Friday lifted its stay order on the cutting of trees for the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited’s Line III project, PTI reported. On February 9, the bench had issued the stay order after residents of Churchgate and Cuffe Parade in South Mumbai had challenged the construction, saying it would involve the felling of more than 5,000 trees.

A bench of Bombay High Court Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice GS Kulkarni also directed MMRCL to file an undertaking saying that for every tree cut in South Mumbai, another one will be planted in the same spot after the 33-km project is executed.

The Metro Line III project will connect the Santa Cruz Export Processing Zone to Colaba in the southern tip of Mumbai via Bandra.

“The approach is to form a balance between environment and development. Once the Metro Line III is functional, it will improve the socio-economic condition of citizens,” Chief Justice Chellur said. “If a harsh stance, as sought by the petitioners, is taken, then it would be impossible to achieve development. We feel the MMRCL will be providing the metro line for the benefit of lakhs of citizens.”

The MMRCL had requested the court to vacate the stay on cutting of trees earlier this week. “The order directing a stay on cutting of trees needs to be vacated since it is causing a lot of damage to the project. A lot of work needs to be completed before the monsoon. Trenches, which have been dug, need to be filled out after the necessary work is finished,” the corporation’s counsel Aspi Chinoy had said.

The bench has appointed the secretary of the Maharashtra Legal Services and the High Court’s deputy registrar to oversee that the undertaking to replant trees is complied with. “A compliance report shall be filed every month before a committee of the two sitting judges of the High Court that will be appointed by us,” the court said.

The bench has imposed a 10-day stay on its order lifting the ban on felling of tress to give the petitioners time to approach the Supreme Court in appeal.