Bombay HC stays Metro 3 work over damage to heritage buildings

The Bombay HC directed the committee to study the effects of such tunnelling work on buildings. The petition had sought a stay on the ongoing work for the proposed Hutatma Chowk Metro station on the grounds that it was damaging the old buildings, including several protected heritage structures, in the area.The division bench directed the MMRCL to refrain from carrying out "excavation work" near the JN Petit library and garden.

"The committee will submit its report and suggestions, on the effects of the excavation work on the buildings within two weeks", the court said.

The High Court has also set a three member panel to assess the damage being caused to the heritage building. The committee, comprising a structural engineer each from the side of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) and the JN Petit Institute, and experts from IIT-Bombay, will suggest ways to continue with the project without causing damage to the structures. It said that on August 25, a portion of the building collapsed on the garden due to vibrations emanating from the tunnelling. A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Nitin Jamdar allowed the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to cut down the trees which, as per the authority, were obstructing the construction work. But in December 2014, the civic chief said he was satisfied that "there is no viable alternative to DN Road" and permitted the underground Metro III alignment to pass through the road, but asked MHCC to "take all measures" to ensure no structural damage to heritage buildings along DN Road.

The High Court's orders will seem to put a pause on the Metro-3 construction flow but the tunneling process is still far away from actual execution and now MMRC will await the High Court's next decision.

While vacating the stay, Chief Justice Chellur said, "We have already observed that Metro is meant for the welfare of the public".

While on Thursday, they told the court that while they were not opposed to the Metro work, it must be halted at least till a "comprehensive survey of all buildings in Fort area is conducted by an independent structural engineer".

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