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Published On: Sat, Oct 5th, 2019

Aarey protest: 29 protesters sent to judicial custody,144 imposed in Aarey after protests over tree cutting

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4BMAAREYPROTESTMUMBAI : Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Sunday backed the cutting of trees in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, where a metro car shed will be built, citing Delhi Metro as an example.
The minister’s remarks come amid strong opposition for green activists, 29 of whom have been arrested for trying to stop authorities from cutting more than 2,600 trees late Friday night.

“When the first Delhi metro station was constructed, 20-25 trees were cut down. People then protested against it. Today it is the best metro across the world,” the minister said. This is the mantra of development and protecting the environment. Both should go together,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Aarey Police on October 5 arrested 29 members of the mob that gathered at the Aarey Colony to protest against cutting of trees in light of the Bombay High Court’s verdict over the issue.

Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Pranaya Ashok confirmed that 23 men and six women were placed under arrest in the early hours of Saturday morning and charged with unlawful assembly and assault to deter a public servant from discharging their duty.
Mumbai court on Saturday rejected the bail application filed by 29 activists who were arrested for protesting the felling of trees in north Mumbai’s Aarey Colony. The activists have been sent to judicial custody till Monday. Till now, 38 people have been arrested and 55 people have been detained by the police.
The Bombay High Court, meanwhile, rejected a fresh plea filed by activists for a stay on felling of trees in Aarey, a day after the HC gave its nod to the cutting down of Mumbai’s ‘green lung’ despite vociferous protests.
Section 144 was imposed and roads leading to Aarey blocked as protesters escalated their fight, a day after the court gave its nod to the felling of over 2,500 trees for the Metro project.
On Friday, the high court refused to recognise Aarey as a forest, allowing the authorities to cut down trees for construction of a shed for the Mumbai Metro. The authorities soon complied, with activists complaining that about 200 trees were cut down in a late-night operation.
The Aarey battle soon took a political turn as not only the Opposition, but BJP’s Maharashtra ally Shiv Sena also attacked the government for the decision.Reacting to the development, party chief Uddhav Thackeray said: “Our government is going to come to power soon and we will see what to do about these murderers of trees.”
Amid the furore, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar drew parallels between Delhi and Mumbai. “The Bombay High Court has ruled that Aarey is not a forest. When the first Delhi metro station was to be constructed, 20-25 trees were cut. People had protested then too, but for each tree cut, five trees were planted.”
The Aarey colony, measuring 1,287 hectares and located adjoining the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, is known as a major green lung of the metropolis. Several Bollywood personalities and politicians had also extended their support to the activists protesting against the feeling of trees in Aarey. Maharashtra government had told the court that Aarey cannot be declared a forest just because of its greenery.
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited had argued in court that the project was of paramount importance for the city. “Every day 10 persons die due to overcrowding in local suburban trains. The Metro project will ease the pressure from the trains.

Over thousand trees have been cut at Mumbai’s Aarey Colony so far to clear space for a car shed of a metro project, despite a massive protest by green activists against the move. The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation’s plan to build a car shed will entail cutting of over 2,600 trees at Aarey Colony, which houses over 5 lakh trees.

The environmentalists approached the Bombay High Court for the tree cutting to be stopped, but just like Friday, the court refused to intervene.The issue is pending before the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal. Hence, we are dismissing the petition on the principle of commonality and not on merits,” a bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre said on Friday.(With Inputs from Mumbai Bureau ).

 

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