Supreme Court To Hear Case For Mumbai’s Aarey Trees
NEW DELHI/ MUMBAI : A special bench of the Supreme Court will hear a case on Monday against the cutting of trees in Mumbai’s Aarey colony for the city’s metro rail project. At another court on Sunday, 29 activists, arrested for protesting against it on Friday night, were given conditional bail.
A holiday court ordered their release on the condition that they post a bail bond of Rs. 7,000 and not take part in any of the protests. The lawyer for the activists, most of whom are students, argued in the bail plea that they have exams starting Monday.
The activists are likely to walk out of the Thane Jail, where most of them have been lodged, by 11 am on Monday. The mother of one of the students, who had arrived at the police station on Sunday said: “Yes, it is a relief but only a temporary relief. The battle is long. I cannot say anything until my son reaches home”.
Meanwhile,the two-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Ashok Bhushan was constituted after a group of law students wrote to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi seeking the top court’s intervention in the matter and the cutting of trees to be suspended immediately. This comes a day after the Bombay High Court rejected an application moved by environmentalists seeking a stay on the cutting of trees.
The activists have claimed the cutting of trees was illegal. They were charged with obstructing and assaulting police personnel on duty and subsequently arrested.
The activists have been protesting against the construction of the a car shed for Mumbai Metro at the colony for two years. While several Bollywood stars have also echoed concerns, actors Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar have come out in support of the government backing the metro project.
Uddhav Thackeray, chief of the BJP’s coalition partner Shiv Sena, and his son, Aaditya have thrown their weight behind the activists. Prohibitory orders have been imposed in Aarey colony, banning large gathering in the area.
The opposition intensified its protest after the Bombay High Court on Friday dismissed all petitions regarding the felling of the trees by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (MMRCL) in the green zone to construct a car-shed for the Metro-3 project.
A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dongre also declined to declare Aarey Colony as ‘forest’ or quash the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Tree Authority’s decision permitting the razing of the trees in the green zone for the metro project.
The judges noted that the carbon dioxide sequestration of 2,702 trees for their entire lifetime calculated at 12,79,062 kg would be compensated in 3,948 fully-loaded trips of the metro trains, while dismissing petitions filed by activist Zoru Bhathena and Shiv Sena corporator Yashwant K. Jadhav.
Jadhav was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs 50,000 for his petition against the approval granted by the BMC Tree Authority of which he is a member, while Bhathena is moving the Supreme Court in the matter.
Among those whisked off was Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi, while Aditya Thackeray condemned the tree felling taken up since late Friday night. “A project that should be executed with pride, the Metro-3, has to do it in the cover of the night, with shame, slyness and heavy cop cover.
The project supported to get Mumbai clean air, is hacking down a forest with a leopard, rusty spotted cat and more,” Aditya Thackeray tweeted. Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant, slamming the Shiv Sena, tweeted in Marathi: “This is the time @ShivSena. You are in the government, you can stop this. The Mahayuti (mega alliance) is more important or the mega loss of trees?” . *With Inputs from Mumbai Bureau ).