Within hours of HC nod, Mumbai Metro starts cutting Aarey trees

Updated: Oct 05, 2019, 07:28 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

As soon as the message of tree cutting spread, many people associated with the Save Aarey movement started gathering near the car depot site

Citizens converge at Aarey at the site of the tree cutting. Pic/ Ranjeet Jadhav
Citizens converge at Aarey at the site of the tree cutting. Pic/ Ranjeet Jadhav

Mere hours after the Bombay High Court on Friday refused to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declined to quash the BMC tree authority's decision allowing felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed, the authorities had already taken an axe to the trees, environment activists alleged. A video that has gone viral, shows a tree being cut at Aarey.

As soon as the message of tree cutting spread, many people associated with the Save Aarey movement started gathering near the car depot site.

A local who did not wished to be named said, "I got a forward video on WhatsApp saying that the authorities have started cutting down the trees inside the car depot site. Around 8.30 pm, when I visited the picnic point area near the car depot site, I saw a huge police bandobast and there were some nature lovers who were protesting against the cutting of trees. Only when one goes inside the car depot site, will it become clear what exactly is happening."

More than 100 people were gathered and were shouting slogans against the police alleging that they did not intervene.

The high court on Friday morning declared that "the greens [environmentalists] have failed and court imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on Shiv Sena corporator Yashwant Jadhav, who opposed the approval given by the BMC tree authority, of which he is a member, for hacking trees in the green belt.

A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre dismissed four petitions filed by NGOs and environmental activists on issues related to Aarey Colony in Goregaon, a major green lung of the metropolis.

Aarey
Till late last night hundreds of people had converged at the Metro carshed site in Aarey protesting against the tree cutting that had already started. Pic/ Ranjeet Jadhav

The court termed all the petitioners as 'Davids' taking on the industrial 'Goliaths', apparently suggesting that they were fighting an unequal battle.

One of the pleas moved by city-based NGO Vanshakti had sought that Aarey Colony be declared a forest and an ecologically sensitive zone, while another petition filed by green activist Zoru Bathena had pleaded that the area be given the status of a floodplain.

Dismissing the petition filed by Vanshakti, the court, in its judgment, noted that the issue was already decided by an earlier bench of the high court and the matter was presently pending before the Supreme Court.

"The greens [environmentalists] fail in the instant petition because they have lost touch with the procedure to be followed as per law. The clock cannot be put back. We do not make any comments thereon as the petitioner has to now swim or sink before the Supreme Court," thecourt said.

"The tree authority's decision-making process was fair, transparent and based on reason. The greens fail not on account of sailing their boats in the wrong channel but on merit," the court said.

Rs 50k
Fine imposed by HC on Sena corporator Yashwant Jadhav who opposed the hacking of trees

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Hours after Bombay HC verdict, BMC starts cutting trees at Aarey

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