The Bombay High Court has asked the Ministry of Environment and Forest to inform whether vehicles carrying essential items for local residents be allowed inside Matheran hill station an eco-sensitive zone, during the lockdown period.
Justice S C Gupte has asked the ministry and state government to respond to the plea filed by former Member of Legislative Assembly, Suresh Lad by May 8.
Matheran, is declared as an eco-sensitive zone. The zone consists of 89 villages. There are around 6500 people staying in them.
Advocate Gaurav Parkar appearing for the petitioner argued that so far essential goods were being supplied to the entire zone at the gate, which is about three and half kms. from the core area of Matheran, vehicles not being permitted beyond this gate and into the core area, due to unavailability of men and hand carts as a result of the lock-down
ordered due to Covid-19 pandemic, it has become extremely difficult for the locals to ferry the supplies to the core area inside the zone.
The prayer is for permission to take vehicles from the main gate and up to the core area so as to enable the residents to secure essential goods during the present lock-down period necessitated by Covid-19 pandemic. In the alternative, state to draw up a plan to ensure the supply of goods to the residents of the zone.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh and Government Pleader P P Kakde appearing for the state sought time to seek instructions on whether the conditions can be relaxed and vehicles can be allowed inside Matheran.
The petition claims that in the current crisis the residents are paying extra charge of Rs 250 for gas cylinder and extra charge for essential items. The peculiar situation has arisen as many handcart pullers and horses which used to carry the luggage are no more available.
Citing the example of 2005 when a landslide had occurred in Matheran the municipal council had on its own brought trucks and other construction equipment to remove debris and pave way for the regular functioning of Matheran.
The plea says Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides Right to Life and Liberty to all person's. The right to life encompasses availability of essential goods and other items at fair market price. Deprivation of essential items at fair and market price to residents of Matheran is in contradiction to the scope of Article 21.