Aarey Tree Felling: Supreme Court Orders Maharashtra Government to Stop Cutting Trees For Proposed Mumbai Metro Car Shed, Next Hearing on October 21
Aarey forest (Photo Credits: PTI)

New Delhi, October 7: In a big win for the Aarey activists, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Maharashtra Government to stop cutting more trees at Aarey Colony in Mumbai. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Maharashtra Government assured the bench that henceforth no trees will be cut for the proposed Mumbai metro car shed in the metropolis. The top Court ordered that status quo should be maintained regarding felling of trees at Mumbai's Aarey Colony. The top Court also asked to include Union Environment ministry a party. Next hearing on October 21.

The Court said that activists who were arrested should be released. Mehta added saying. 'In case those are still not released shall be released immediately'. During a special hearing, the Supreme Court had asked to show notification on Aarey being an eco-sensitive zone. Justice Arun Mishra asked 'tell us whether it was an eco-sensitive zone or not'. "It was a no development zone not an eco-sensitive zone. This is what we get, show us the documents", Mishra said. Aarey Colony Row: Bail Granted to 29 Activists Arrested For Protesting Against Felling of Trees.

For the hearing on the Aarey row today, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Maharashtra government while Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan and Sanjay Hegde are appearing for Aarey activists. The top Court had constituted a special bench for an urgent hearing today regarding the felling of trees in Mumbai’s Aarey to set up a Metro car shed. The move was being opposed by green activists and a large section of people, including residents of the Aarey Colony. Aarey Activists' Bail Amount Raised Via Crowdfunding Through 'Our Democracy' Funding Programme.

On Sunday, the court received a letter by the students' group against the axing of trees in the Aarey forest. The top court then decided to pursue it as public interest litigation (PIL) and constituted a "special bench" to hear the matter." The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) started cutting the trees on Friday night after the Bombay High Court rejected a bunch of petitions filed by NGOs and activists against the tree felling.

The Aarey Forest Row

On Friday, the Bombay High Court had refused to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declined to quash the Mumbai municipal corporation’s decision to allow felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed. Scores of protesters had gathered at the Aarey Colony in Mumbai to raise their voice against the cutting of trees. In the wake of the turmoil, the Mumbai Police imposed Section 144, thereby banning unlawful assembly. The protesters have been demanding the relocation of the bus depot, which is a part of the Metro III project.

The letter sent to the CJI by Rishav Ranjan on behalf a student delegation on Sunday stated, ”As we write this letter to you the Mumbai authorities continue to kill the lungs of Mumbai i.e Aarey forest by clearing of trees near Mithi river bank and according to news reports 1,500 trees have already been cleared by the authorities".

Reports inform that the police had detained at least 84 protesters for allegedly disturbing public order in the city. 29 out of 84 protestors were sent to five-day judicial custody by a local court on Saturday. They were later granted bail on Sunday by Dindoshi court on a cash bond of Rs 7,000 each and asked to appear at the police station for further inquiry.