Aarey row: Metro Rail Corporation responds to letter written by law student Rishav Ranjan

Updated: Oct 11, 2019, 21:12 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Reacting to the response by MMRC, Rishav Ranjan said that the reply exactly shows the dubious concern of MMRC for environment and citizens

People enter into the metro car shed on the spot during tree-cutting at the Aarey colony in Mumbai. Photo/PTI
People enter into the metro car shed on the spot during tree-cutting at the Aarey colony in Mumbai. Photo/PTI

While there is a debate going on between city based green activists and those supporting the cutting of trees at metro car shed whether the cutting of trees was a right decision, a fourth year law student, identified as Rishav Ranjan, who was part of the student delegation that had written a letter to CJI Ranjan Gogoi seeking intervention in the tree cutting issue at Aarey on Thursday had also written a letter to Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation stating that MMRC should have not cut the trees and maintained status quo until the judgment is delivered.

It must be noted that Ranjan had written a letter to MMRC on October 8 requesting, "Request to stop all construction activities in Aarey for following the orders of Hon'ble Supreme Court in Suo Moto Writ Petition (Civil) No.2/2019."

Responding to the letter written by the law student, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) have said, "We are in receipt of your letter dated, October 8, 2019, and we deny in entirety the allegations levelled therein. We have the highest regard for the Hon'ble Apex Court, and we respect and are abiding by the order of the Hon'ble Court passed on October 7, which is unambiguous and self-explanatory."

A paragraph from MMRC letter states, "We have heard learned counsel for the parties at length. It is pointed out from the record of S.L.P.(C) No.31178 of 2018, as seen from the Management Plan for Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), Borivali, Mumbai, some of the areas of the Aarey Milk Colony were transferred to revenue lands from the un-classed forests. However, identity of the area is to be established by the petitioners, though, it was orally stated that the area in question fell in the un-classed forest. Be that as it may."

Also Read: Several trees still standing at Metro car shed site in Aarey, say green activists

The MMRC letter further states, "Tushar Mehta, a learned Solicitor General appearing for the State of Maharashtra has stated that they are not going to cut any further trees till the next date of hearing. In the circumstances, the Statement is quite fair. It is stated by Tushar Mehta that the incumbents who have been arrested have been released. It is further submitted that in case anybody has not been released so far, he/she be released immediately on furnishing personal bond. Let the statement made be carried out in pith and substance. Parties may exchange the documents in the meantime. As prayed for jointly by the learned counsel for the parties, list these matters before the Forest Bench on October 21, 2019, as the said Bench is hearing the matter pertaining to the similar issues in T.N. Godhavarman's case."

In its letter, MMRC has also said that as undertaken, the status quo be maintained till the next date of hearing with respect to the cutting of trees. Point number 3 from the MMRC letter states, "Furthermore, you are well aware that our Senior Counsel as well as the Solicitor General and Senior Counsel for the State Government and MCGM had categorically and orally submitted before the Hon'ble Court that clearing and construction work is required to be continued and the undertaking and status quo be restricted to cutting of trees. It is in that background that the afore-quoted order has been passed. Thus, your letter is a misinterpretation of the order - in letter and in spirit - of the Hon'ble Apex Court, and we request you to withdraw the same forthwith," concludes the MMRC letter.

Also Read: Rohit Sharma bats to save Aarey Colony trees

What Rishav Ranjan has to say?

Rishav Ranjan, the law student who had written the letter to the MMRC said, "It is very basic that if something is in dispute both the parties should maintain status quo until the judgement is delivered. What if tomorrow Supreme Court declares that Aarey Colony is eco sensitive zone or forest and no construction should be done and orders to shift the metro car shed to alternative sites ? What will MMRCL then do? MMRCL should respect the fcat that the matter is still in litigation and for efficient hearing they should restrain from undertaking any activities."

He further said, "The reply exactly shows their dubious concern for environment and citizens."

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