Mumbai: Row over cutting of 2,646 Aarey trees escalates
As the Shiv Sena alleges that Tree Authority members were bribed, one of those who voted in favour of cutting makes a hurried U-turn
Even as the fact that Aarey Colony's 2,646 trees will be axed to make way for the Metro III car shed is yet to sink in, Shiv Sena has alleged that a financial deal between the construction agency and Tree Authority experts was the reason the proposal was cleared in the meeting on Thursday. However, one of the TA experts rubbished the allegation, saying that she wasn't aware that raising her hand would mean supporting the proposal.
Speaking to mid-day, standing committee chairman and Shiv Sena corporator, Yashwant Jadhav, said, "A financial transaction has taken place between the agency appointed to work on Metro line III and the three TA experts. Even the NCP member is involved in it. The experts will face the brunt of Sena and its protests. I have decided to move court against the BMC administration and the experts."
Jadhav along with a couple of environmental activists would be filing separate petitions in the matter in the Bombay High Court. The Sena also said that the TA experts who helped clear the proposal should immediately resign, as soon they would have to pay for this.
Meanwhile, one of the TA experts, Dr Sashirekha Sureshkumar, who voted in favour of the proposal, rubbished the allegation saying, "No money is involved here. There is no truth in what he is saying. I was not aware that raising hands would mean supporting the proposal. We were also not given a chance to speak in the meeting and put forward our recommendations. It is unfortunate that the proposal got cleared but we don't know how to undo something that has already been done."
Another TA expert, Subhash Patne, said, "These allegations are completely baseless. We are tree lovers too. We have already given our recommendations and suggestions and I am positive about the proposal as it is a work of development."
When contacted, environmentalist Zoru Bhathena said, "It is very upsetting to see such a proposal getting approved. We have decided to move court against this." The TA passed a proposal for uprooting 2,646 trees in Aarey for construction of the Metro III car shed during a committee meeting on Thursday. Shiv Sena opposed the proposal but BJP, NCP and tree experts voted in favour. Members of the Congress walked out of the meeting without voting.
No. of trees to be cut in Aarey to make way for Metro III car shed
With inputs from Ranjeet Jadhav
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Hours after Bombay HC verdict, BMC starts cutting trees at Aarey