Aarey Tree Cutting: 29 Arrested by Mumbai Police Amid Protest in Aarey Colony, Security Beefed Up; Here’s All That Has Happened Since Bombay HC Order
Aarey Tree Cutting Protest (Photo Credits: IANS)

Mumbai, October 5: Amid the ongoing protest in Aarey Colony in Mumbai, as many as 29 people were arrested by Mumbai Police on Saturday for agitating against the cutting of trees in the area. According to a latest update, all the arrested protesters have been sent to judicial custody by Borivali Court. The Police informed that of the 29 people, six are women, adding that those arrested are among the 60 people that have been detained by police earlier. “We have arrested 29 protesters. Six of them are women. Some of them had manhandled and beaten the police personnel deployed in Aarey Colony and obstructed them from discharging their duty,” the police official said. Aarey Tree Cutting: Aaditya Thackeray Says It’s Shameful to Cut Trees in ‘Cover of The Night’.

The entire Aarey Colony was cordoned off by Mumbai police on Saturday morning after hundreds of activists tried to stop the felling of trees in the area. The protesters have been opposing tree-felling in Aarey Colony in north Mumbai, a prime green lung of the city, for Metro work. Eye-witnesses said heavy police deployment has been made in the area and no person is allowed to enter Aarey Colony. Aarey Tree Cutting: Video Shows Authorities Starts Chopping Down Trees, Twitterati Cries Foul.

Demands of Protesters

Hundreds of protesters had gathered at Aarey Colony, the area that has been  proposed for a metro car shed. A number of locals including environmental activists held protests opposing the cutting of trees for the construction of the car shed of the metro station. The protesters have been demanding the relocation of the bus depot, which is a part of the Metro III project. Several celebrities and political leaders have also extended their support to activists by participating in the protests against the cutting of trees.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation has announced its plan to cut down over 2,700 trees from Aarey colony in order to build a car shed for the Metro. The Aarey colony is a forest area which is spread over 13,000 hectares. It is a home to over 27 Adivasi villages and inhabits various animal species.

MMRCL Begins Cutting Down Trees After Bombay HC Order

On Friday, the Bombay High Court dismissed all petitions against the proposed cutting down of over 2,500 trees in Aarey Colony of Mumbai. In its decision, the Court refused to declare the colony as a forest. Hours after the Court's decision, the MMRCL began cutting down trees to make way for a car shed.

While  dismissing petitions filed by activist Zoru Bhathena and Shiv Sena corporator Yashwant K. Jadhav, the judges of the Bombay High Court said that the carbon dioxide sequestration of 2,702 trees for their entire lifetime calculated at 12,79,062 kg would be compensated in 3,948 fully-loaded trips of the metro trains.

Activists Allege 200 Trees Hacked in Aarey on Friday

As the cutting of trees began on Friday, hundreds of environmental activists gathered in Aarey Colony and protested against the act. The activists who camped at Aarey overnight on Friday, alleged that of over 2,600 trees which are to be felled, 200 were cut by Friday night. Several videos of tree-felling went viral on social media, which anguished the protesters even more.

Section 144 Imposed in Aarey Colony

The Mumbai Police imposed section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Aarey Colony and surrounding areas on Saturday. The action comes following strong protests by activists against the felling of trees in the green zone for a Metro car shed. Section 144 prohibits the assembly of four or more people in an area. According to the law, every member of such 'unlawful assembly' can be booked for engaging in rioting.

Mumbai Police Detain Protesters

A number of activists have been arrested since Friday night in Mumbai after they tried to stop the authorities from cutting trees at Aarey. Scores of environmentalists have been protesting since Friday against the decision to build a car shed for Mumbai Metro at Aarey Colony. According to the rules of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), the trees can be cut 15 days after posting the court order to do so on its website.

Priyanka Chaturvedi Detained by Mumbai Police

Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi who was among those detained by Mumbai Police on Saturday. Chaturvedi claimed that she was forcibly evicted from the protest site by the police. The leader took to Twitter and said,  “On my way to #aarey and main entry points to the site have been blocked by Mumbai Police! #SaveAarey". “I have been forcibly evicted by the cops and I wasn’t even breaking the law! The cops in the car wont even tell me where I am being taken … this is insane @MumbaiPolice,” Chaturvedi said in a second tweet.

Environment Activists Citicised Authorities

The environment activists are of the opinion that the metro corporation wants to finish the job before October 10, when the matter comes before the National Green Tribunal. “This matter is going to be heard by the NGT on October 10, and we hope to get some respite from there. But it seems like the authorities want to eliminate the entire green patch before the hearing,” Stalin D, one of the activists, said.

Out of the four petitions to the Bombay High Court, one had sought that Aarey Colony be declared a forest and ecologically sensitive zone, while another petition had pleaded that it be given the status of a floodplain. Amid the ongoing turmoil in the state over the cutting down of trees at Aarey, the Opposition parties including NCP and Congress targeted the Shiv Sena and BJP, saying the ruling parties have failed to save trees in Aarey Colony.