The Supreme Court Special Bench will hear a plea on the tree felling in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony. 29 activists who have been detained for protesting tree felling by authority were released on bail. Section 144 was lifted ahead of the urgent hearing of the case against the felling of 2,600 trees for the construction of Mumbai.

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Mumbai Aarey Forest Case Timeline:

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) has cut down 2,141 trees in the Aarey colony from 4-5 October, 2019. The organization has confirmed that the Supreme Court has ordered stay on further cutting of the trees till its next hearing on October 21, 2019. The Maharashtra Government says it doesn’t need to cut any more trees. It had already cut down the trees that’s been needed for its plan to clear 33 hectares of Aarey land for the construction of a car shed and depot.

In August 2019, a proposal was tabled to a panel of three expertises from the tree authority by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL). On August 29, 2019 the approval for felling of approximate 2,600 trees was granted. While many political parties opposed the act, the BJP came in support of it.

After the news broke out to the public protests began immediately. Activists and protestors even formed a human chain in support of the forest. The environmental issue has drawn immense attention. Celebrities also took to their social media to voice their disapproval and create awareness. About 29 protestors were arrested near Aarey colony during the protest against the MMRC and around 100 people were detained by Mumbai police.

The protests followed by the demission of petition by the Bombay High Court and refused to declare the Aarey colony a forest land. Among the detained was the Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi. By the time protestors stormed the site, around 200 trees had been felled. Mumbai police also blocked roads leading to Aarey, denying entry to locals.

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Section 144 was imposed in the area and several activists were forcefully evacuated by the police. Felling of trees continued throughout the day at the construction site of Mumbai Metro. Justice SC Dharmadhikar refused any urgent mentioning in the case and asked the petitioners to approach Chief Justice of Bombay HC. Union Environment Minister Prakash Javedekar said development and preservation of nature should go together. Shiv Sena’s Aaditya Thackeray opposed the move and called it shameful. 

Mumbai Aarey Forest Case Status:

The Supreme Court made it limpid that the order on existing state of affairs in Mumbai`s Aarey colony forest is only to the felling of trees and there’s no problem on the construction of a car shed. A special bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra extended the prohibition order on cutting of any more trees in the Aarey area and directed the Maharashtra government to maintain this status till the next date of hearing on November 15.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta guaranteed the bench that no more trees would be cut and insisted that the court should clarify that there is no stay on the construction work. The petitioners told the court that many of the transplanted trees are not in good condition. The apex court also obtained a report from Maharashtra government on total number of saplings that had been sown as well as the number of trees transplanted. The SC also asked the government to share the plan for the greening of the entire Aarey area.

Senior Advocate who was representing Mumbai Metro, Mukul Rohatgi commended the Delhi Metro claiming that a large number of commuters are making use of the service daily and has helped in controlling air pollution in the national capital. He also said that the allegations regarding construction of other buildings projects are groundless as the only construction activity in the area is for building the metro car shed.

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