Latest Update on Aarey Colony protest: The Protest began after MMRC started cutting trees at night
Mumbai Aarey Colony is regarded as the lungs of Mumbai which is spread over 13,000 hectares. It is home to various animal species and 27 Adivasi villages. The whole parley started after Mumbai’s civic body’s tree authority granted permission to Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) to cut around 2,646 trees from Aarey Colony in order to build car shed for the metro.
A city-based NGO Vanashakti filed a petition in Bombay High Court seeking a declaration of the 1,280-hectare area of Aarey Colony as “Protected Forest” or “Reserved Forest” under the Indian Forest Act of 1927. However, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, Civic administration and the state argued that the HC can’t decide the issue of Aarey being a forest since the matter was decided by another bench last October.
Environmental activists and residents opposed the cutting down of trees for the construction of the metro car shed. They also demanded relocation of the bus depot, which is a part of Metro Phase 3 project.
Bombay High Court dismissed all the petitions against the proposed cutting down on October 4
Bombay High Court dismissed all the petitions against the proposed cutting down of trees on October 4. A protest was held hours later on Friday night near the Aarey Colony area. Hundreds of people came to stop the authorities from cutting the trees during the wee hours. Police were deployed in the area after gathering started getting bigger.
Mumbai police imposed Section 144 of CrPC on Saturday near the Aarey colony and the entry points of the Aarey Colony were barricaded. Section 144 is normally imposed in urgent cases of nuisance or to apprehend danger of some event and forbid public gathering.
29 people including students and environmental activists were arrested
29 people including students and environmental activists were taken into judicial custody for five days by a local court. 55 people were detained in connection to Aarey Colony Protest by the Mumbai Police.
Other than the activists and locals, political leaders of Shiv Sena and Congress were also detained who were against the cutting of trees.
The High Court had ordered to remove 2,646 trees from the Aarey Colony so that Metro Shed can be made. About 2200 trees were to be cut while the rest of them had to be transplanted to another place. MMRCL has to create Metro shed as the part of Metro Phase 3 project.
High Court had earlier asked MMRCL (Mumbai Metro Railway Corporation Limited) to see any other place to make Metro shed but MMRCL were not able to find any other place.
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadanvis said that Metro Phase 3 will help in fighting the carbon omission. People travelling on Metro rather than in their private vehicles will help the city in the longer run.
MMRC has planted around 24,000 trees across Mumbai to combat heavy tree losses
Managing Director of MMRCL, Ashwini Bhide said that as promised, the MMRC has planted around 24,000 trees across Mumbai including Aarey Milk Colony and degraded areas of SGNP. This is almost 10 times the numbers of trees that are to be cut in the Aarey Colony. She wrote on her twitter handle that destruction was necessary to pave the way for new life and creation.
Several celebrities supported the protesting in the Aarey Colony. Alia Bhatt, Farhan Akhtar, Dia Mirza, Karan Johar, Swara Bhaskar and Madhuri Dixit supported protestors on Twitter.
Shiv Sena Chief Politician Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aditya Thackeray also supported the protestors. Aditya Thackeray asked the Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadanvis to stop the state authority from arresting the people and not put any cases on people who are in love with the environment. He said that it’s a shame that protestors are filed with cases.
Environmental activists then took the matter to Supreme Court. The Supreme Court then barred the government from cutting trees any further in the Aarey forest which is also known as Aarey Milk Colony on Monday. The court order came in response to a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by a set of law students. The forest bench of the apex court will hear the matter on 21st October. The group of law students had written to the CJI Ranjan Gogoi on Sunday, urging him to stop the authorities from cutting trees. A special vacation bench was constituted to hear the plea as the court was closed for Dussehra.
It is speculated that 2,185 trees from 2,646 trees were already cut by the time the Supreme Court gave its order.
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