No More Tree-Cutting In Aarey: SC Tells Maharashtra Government
The Supreme Court has ordered the Maharashtra Government to halt the felling of trees for the car shed of the Mumbai Metro in Aarey Colony.
The apex court, which had received a letter written by the students’ group to the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi against the axing of trees in Aarey forest, decided to pursue it as public interest litigation (PIL) and constituted a “special bench” to hear the matter. The special bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan was set up to hear the PIL and a notice was published on the Supreme Court website informing people about the urgent hearing.
“Don’t cut anything now,” a special bench said, adding that “Aarey forest was a no-development zone and not eco-sensitive zone as claimed by petitioner.” It also sought an afforestation report from the Maharashtra government.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had ordered Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) to chop-off around 2,700 trees and transplant 460 on a 33-hectare-area. Following the felling of trees on Friday night, after the Bombay High Court allowed the axing, the Mumbai Police and protesting residents clashed leading to the detention of many and imposition of Section 144 in the area.
Last Sunday, 29 out of the detained activists were released on bail by a holiday court on the condition that they post a bail bond of Rs 7,000 and not take part in any protest. The court has also directed that anyone under arrest for protesting the axing of trees shall be released on furnishing personal bonds.
As per a report by The Economic Times, the court in a notice said, “A special bench has been constituted to hear the matter tomorrow, October 7, at 10 am on the basis of a letter dated October 6 addressed by Rishav Ranjan with regard to the felling of trees in Aarey forest, Maharashtra, which has been registered as a public interest litigation.”
The bench has said it will have to examine the issue and has posted the matter for hearing on October 21 before its forest bench. For now, the bench has instructed the Maharashtra government to completely pause its tree-felling operations in Aarey.