Asia’s only automobile-free hill station of Matheran near Mumbai would now boast of vehicles.
The Supreme Court has allowed the Maharashtra government to implement its proposal to introduce a few eco-friendly e-rickshaw in Matheran Eco-sensitive Zone, on an experimental basis, to check its feasibility and replace the hand-pulled rickshaws.
Located 108 km away from downtown Mumbai and 120 km from Raigad district, the hill station is part of the larger Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). A retired school teacher, Sunil Shinde, who is resident of Matheran, had moved the Supreme Court seeking that e-rickshaws be allowed to ply in Matheran.
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Raigad District Collector Mahendra Kalyankar and Matheran Municipal Council’s Chief Officer Surekha Bhanage will now proceed ahead in this regard.
Matheran, which means “forest on the forehead” is an eco-sensitive region, declared by the Ministry of Environment and Forest of Government of India — and is Asia’s only automobile-free hill station. One can do a lot of things in Matheran — walk, trek, engage in mountaineering and rock climbing, valley crossing, night trails, bird watching and so on.
Matheran has 94 hand-pulled rickshaws, 450-odd horses and around 500 ponies. More than 10 lakh people visit Matheran annually.
- Matheran, nestled in the picturesque Western Ghats, was discovered in May 1850 by Hugh Poyntz Malet, the then district collector of Thane. Lord Elphinstone, the then Governor of Bombay laid the foundation for its development as a future hill station. The Britishers developed Matheran as a popular resort to beat the summer heat in the region. The Matheran Hill Railway — a popular toy train — was built in 1907 by Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy.