Bombay HC: No trees to be cut in Aarey till September 30

On Tuesday, Bombay HC directed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) to not fell a single tree for the prestigious Metro-3 car shed till September 30

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In a minor victory for environmentalists in Mumbai, the Bombay High Court ruled that Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) shall not cut any trees in the Aarey Colony to make way for the prestigious Metro-3 car shed till September 30.

The court will be hearing a petition that challenges the demolition of over 2,700 trees in North Mumbai September 30 onwards. The hearing will be headed by a division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre.

Responding to activist Zoru Bathena's petition challenging the approval granted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Tree Authority, the bench stated that they will hear Bathena's petition on September 30. 

His counsel Janak Dwarkadas said that on September 13 the tree authority issued final permission letter to MMRCL for cutting or transplanting 2,646 trees. However, he also added that no trees can be cut for the next 15 days because under the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, this much period has to be granted to citizens to raise objections, Dwarkadas said.

The activists have voiced their protest towards the cutting of trees in Aarey Colony, which, together with Sanjay Gandhi National Park, is known as the green lung of the metropolis. MMRCL in its affidavit had mentioned that Aarey Colony was not a naturally forested area as claimed by the petitioner.

The affidavit further mentioned that the delay in construction of the car shed will cause a loss of Rs 4.23 crore per day. 

In the meantime, along with Bathena's, three more petitions have been filed on the issue. The petition filed by NGO Vanshakti seeks a direction to the government to declare Aarey a forest area.

Responding to which, the high court on Tuesday said it would look into the question whether Aarey Colony is a forest, and if it is not, can the court issue a direction that it be declared a forest. The hearing on Vanshakti's petition will continue on Wednesday.

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